pas de Halloween

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

a variety of squash and pumpkins harvested from Harry's garden

It's Halloween today and I'm afraid it's Boo Humbug here at 29 Black Street. I used to do the whole Jacko'lanter carving thing and I'd buy lots of bags of miniature sweet treats and I would sit dutifully by the kitchen door waiting for all the little ghouls & goblins to appear for at least a few hours just after dark, especially while all the little kids were still out roaming the streets. As soon as the tall older teen age ghosts began to be the norm I would give out extra candy depleting my supply quickly, turn out the lights and that would be the end of it. In past years the time would have changed the weekend before meaning that it would begin to get dark shortly after 5pm - by 7:30 it would be all over, at least here at this house. This year it really doesn't get dark until 6:30-7pm as the time change hasn't happened yet.

Now we skip to turning the lights out as soon as darkness falls to make it appear as if no one's home. I know I'm not fooling anyone. I live with 2 dogs (last Halloween Em was still with us) Winnie who has some fear issues with people and especially people coming to her home/den and Jake on the other hand who's so friendly he would love to slip out the door and go trick or treating with anyone who would have him (and Em was exactly the same that retriever love for everyone). So between trying to keep Jake inside and making sure he doesn't escape and trying to calm Winnie Dixon's frayed nerves every time a ghoul or goblin knocks on the door... well .... it just took all the fun out of it. So now we stay inside in the darkness.

Boo Humbug.

the cows & a fox

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

one of the cows in the pasture we walk by every day

Soon they'll be put in the barn for the winter and we'll no longer see them dotting the landscape as we trudge along on our walk. They're big, beautiful, curious animals, gentle and trusting and unfortunately these particular farmers don't treat them as well as they should. They seem to think of them purely as a commodity, not as something live with a personality and feelings, but thankfully most of this herd's life is spent roaming huge expanses of pasture with very little interaction with their caretakers. Except - when they escape, which they do often, and it's never their fault. They escape because of faulty, old & dilapidated fencing and then, unfortunately, their in big trouble with the farmers. Yesterday morning when Winnie, Jake & I were walking way out on the sand flats, the tide was out as far as it ever goes out, I could see that five of the cows had simply walked over the one remaining low strand of barbed wire in a section of the fence and were feasting on the green, green grass growing at the end of the grassy lane. If left to their own devices, they will have a little stroll on the beach and then on mass, will trod up the grassy lane and on to Hugh & Dorothy's well manicured lawn & flower gardens. Sometimes, if no one notices them, they'll make it to the paved road or sometimes they'll take a detour down the cottage lane. They are very curious... and I think they really enjoy a change of scenery.

Yesterday morning we were late leaving the house for our walk - it's so dark in the mornings and I knew that we'd be walking alone as Carol had an appointment in town. It was 7:45am and almost completely light out. Our routine is - I stand by the car, both dogs are on retractable leads, and they do their every-morning sniff around the driveway discerning what & who has visited overnight as I stare up at the sky, because the sky is different every day. I happened to glance up the street and there in the middle of Black Street, only one house up, was a fox. He/she nonchalantly trotted across the street and into my neighbour Jean's yard. I put les chiens in the car and went back into the house to call Jean, she has 5 cats who by this time in the morning are all outside hanging in their yard. There have been reports of mishaps between foxes & cats and to a fox - cat or rabbit - it's all potential food to them. I normally let Bleet out each morning at 5am because he demands I do so and I always jokingly say to him "watch out for the foxes" but really believing that the foxes were only roaming around the outskirts of the village - not here smack in the middle, here on Black Street. So now I have to put up with Bleet's fussing & howling, meowing mournfully and his picking at my legs with his sharp little claws as I sit at my computer and type because he doesn't understand why he can't go out and I tease him and tell him he's so fat he'd feed a family of four foxes ... new rules at 29 Black St.

10:30 am update - it's snowing, gentle big flakes of flurries

possible flurries

Monday, October 29, 2007

minneola tangerine

This morning while having my early morning coffee and listening to CBC radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - the Canadian version of NPR) I heard the word flurries in several of the regional weather forecasts - that's how quickly the weather can change. It's cold this morning 3C at the moment and a high forecast of 0. It's always seems colder at the beach as the wind is usually coming off the water. I'll wear my down jacket and I'm afraid there will be no swimming this morning for the boy.

I finished designing my 12 page newsletter, sent the PDF's to my client and have a few tiny text corrections this morning and then off to the printer that job goes - that project went amazingly smoothly. This morning it's back to product design & my latest photo frame collections.

Worked solidly at the design desk from 11:00 am until 4pm yesterday, when the constant woofs from the kitchen reminded me that it was time for our pm walk at the beach - my sweet Noodle dog, my nearly 13 year old retriever, begins his campaign each afternoon around 3pm. He magically appears by my desk, nudging my legs, eventually lying down but sighing deeply and if he doesn't get much response the barking eventually begins - like clockwork everyday. No matter what's on the go with me and my work I always stop sometime between 3-4:30 pm and off we pile into the car and down the road to the beach we go. I make a point of shutting my brain off, as much as I can, as soon as we arrive so that I can enjoy the peace and beauty of where we walk and to appreciate the incredible companionship of my two dogs happily trotting along behind me, following exactly every twist and turn that I make - they are my best friends.

another Sunday

Sunday, October 28, 2007

fall leaves on Black Street - such a beautiful time of the year

17C and rainy softly, and it's supposed to be sunny later in the day and a high of 15C, which is lovely & warm weather for this time of year.

My 12 page newsletter is very close to being finished and I expect to finish it up this morning while listening to CBC radio. Which puts me days ahead of my expected completion of that job. I think I must've done a worse case scenario timing when estimating how long this job was going to take, I was nervous because I haven't been doing this type of work - graphic design (I'm primarily a product designer/illustrator), and I'm using a page layout program that is still relatively new to me. However ... it's ticked along swimmingly and I've enjoyed it and of course when you're paid a lump sum for a project like this (I quoted a per page rate) the quicker I finish, the more money (technically) I've made. This means efficiency becomes very motivating.

My sister and I talk every Sunday morning for an hour or so as soon as the dogs and I return from our walk at the beach. I'll walk around the house with the cordless phone doing small chores & multitasking while we yak up a storm for sometimes up to 90 minutes - getting all caught up with each other's lives.

Would like to spend a few hours outside in the yard & garden this afternoon. There is SO much, still, to do out there. I thankfully have been glued to my design desk all the time these last few weeks- which is absolutely fantastic and makes me so content & happy. But oh how the other stuff suffers, tumbleweeds of Winnie Dixon's black hair roll around everywhere, stacks of my cluttery self on all tables & counters, laundry needing to be done and most of the fall yard/garden clean up yet to be dealt with. Hopefully, if things go as usual, winter won't really arrive until well into January, we might have the occasional bit of stormy winter weather but nothing lasting or significant (usually) until we're well past Christmas. So ... I do have some time left.

I do love a Sunday ... my most favourite day of the week.

les chiens

Saturday, October 27, 2007

terrier mix and retriever extraordinaire

I slept in this morning by nearly an hour. It's dark these fall mornings, we don't actually leave for the beach until nearly 7:30 because we like to wait until the sun has almost risen over the horizon just to make sure all the nocturnal creatures have made it home safely. I do walk with a terrier mix each morning, and she does love to spy a creature, and she has incredible site hound eye sight. Yesterday morning we (Jake, Winnie & I) were all sauntering along on the sand flats, in our quiet walking meditative state, when suddenly Winnie Dixon took off like a shot - a high speed launch, I'm quite used to these events, so I immediately began scanning the landscape and sure enough off in the distance, standing on a rock - was a beautiful red fox. I don't worry too much about foxes, what I don't want to run into is a raccoon (that's always a possibility). Winnie will chase the fox up the cliff and into the woods, and the fox will outrun her fairly quickly, and then she'll come rushing back to us tongue hanging out of her mouth, panting and her eyes asking Did you see that?. She can't help it - she is a terrier-mix, it's in her DNA.

Just as Jake lives to retrieve sticks from water, and when we're finished with the stick fetching part of our morning routine, he happily carries his stick the rest of our long walk. From time to time pausing, dropping the stick, to sniff some interesting spot or to snack on a dead crab, but he always picks the stick back up and we continue our walk until we've reach the car again, where he finally dutifully drops it to the ground. That's his job, not only to retrieve from water but to take the stick to the car - and he takes this all very seriously.

12 page newsletter is my main event this weekend. Thankfully I've left the overwhelmed by the amount of information (text & images) that needs to be organized phase and entered the trance like - pleasurable, big jigsaw puzzle design phase. In other words it's now fun in a weird sort of way and I am determined to remove this job from my plate by the end of the weekend. It's going to rain, so it will be the perfect way to spend this rainy last weekend in October (how can that be ?).

not a design blog...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another beautiful fall afternoon - Miss Winnie Dixon posing for the photographer

There's a huge big full moon shining in my office window this morning. Clear and much colder (2C), much more seasonable temperatures.

I was thinking last night that I'm a bit disappointed that there isn't more design content on this blog - it has really become much more a personal journal blog, that just happens to be written by a designer. I would be happy to post examples of the different projects that I'm working on but of course, for confidentiality reasons ... I can't. Most projects that I work on, take months for the various companies to actually produce and finally photograph in a catalogue, which would then be my OK to show them to the world, as portfolio examples and by that time, 6 months from now, we're on to something far more interesting and exciting and those projects are often forgotten.

I do keep threatened myself (although I'm afraid myself takes these threats far too lightly) to develop a practice to draw, paint or collage an illustration a week which I could then post on this blog and therefore add some creative content, and that threat is still very much alive. I just need to schedule that time in. That creative time, that play time, that time devoted to working on potential portfolio pieces and having fun (hopefully) to boot.

So ... I apologize to anyone who stumbles upon this blog (say you folks referred from amazing all design content blog design for mankind) expecting lots of design stuff. I've been added to her blog roll and I am very flattered and thrilled to be listed among so many tres cool design-y types and incredible blogs but I'm also quite confused as to why and feeling a bit like a fraud. Funny thing is she commented on my blog telling me how she thought it was fabulous the day I had the big ol' post/RaNt about Chimney Sweep #1 & #2 (?*??!@??). I'm afraid this is a blog of a designer whose living this fabulous (pretty simple could even be considered boring by many) life in seaside Nova Scotia and it seems the blog is mostly about said fab life! in which there is no window shopping, trend reporting, fantastic new fonts or the work of cool colleagues, ... but I do try and take my camera everywhere and I do try to post beautiful & interesting images, if you happily share your life with dogs & cats, have always wondered what it would be like to live in a tiny village on the ocean, and if you've had a curiosity about Nova Scotia since hearing Your So Vain from many years ago ... then maybe you've arrived at the right blog.

fall days

Thursday, October 25, 2007

milk chocolate M&Ms - I ate the brown ones for the sake of a better photo

Very busy life here at 29 Black St. these days. And as you know busy=happy pour moi. Design work is piling up which is fantastic. Projects currently on the desk are a 12 page newsletter for our regional health foundation (haven't done a newsletter in ages and this one has a super tight deadline - needs to be at the printer early next week, received the info Monday and was only able to begin it yesterday, this will be a big challenge!), two collections of photo frames for my No.1 customer, honey labels for a local bee keeper (I think this should be fun), an identity for an arborist (tree guy) who I'm bartering with - I'll develop his logo, business cards & signage and he'll do some work with my forest, and I'm expecting my new jewellery design projects from new big fish Chicago company any day now (it's actually worked out well that that particular project has been slightly delayed as I really couldn't do much with it just yet anyway).

I've given up my part-time job, for now, at BFF Harry's gift & home decor store as my weekends have been tied up with design work. Gradually crossing off my home fall/winter readiness list. Chimney sweep arrives next week, plumber comes today (new pretty taps in my downstairs half bath and finally fixing the horrible dripping bath tub faucet - which has been annoyingly dripping for far too long), still searching for the ever elusive, reliable odd jobs kind of, handyman to help me with some things around the house & yard and think I finally have a line on a good guy (I have my fingers crossed). Have some minor tidying up to do in the yard, raking leaves, cleaning out pots, tidying a few flower beds, planting bulbs and I may even mow my lawn one more time - just because it will make the yard look clean & crisp. My wood has yet to arrive - that's really the only large small dark cloud of winter prep left hanging over my little life. It will feel so good & satisfying when the day comes that I know that the wood is in and the chimneys cleaned and those cosy nights by the fire can begin.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

stormy afternoon sky at our beach

Raining and freakishly warm again here this morning. Last night at 8pm the temperature was 20, incredible and secretly I do love it, it's hard to believe that next week will be November. An unusually warm fall just seems to shorten winter which can't be a bad thing. It's 15 this morning and I have all my big windows wide open.

Had a great day in the city yesterday. We left at 9am and we were back home again by 6pm - perfect. And oh the greeting that I received upon returning home from a full day away, Jake wriggling & wagging and bringing me a huge assortment of stuffed toys from the toy box and Miss Winnie Dixon just beside herself with pure joy. Kisses and kisses and spins and snorts it's like she just cannot believe that I actually did come home.

A day like yesterday, when I know I'm going to be gone all day I put my 2 indoor kittens Gussie & Oliver in the guest room with everything that they'll need. That way I can leave the sun porch door open to the back fenced in dog yard and the 2 outside cats Lulu & Bleet and les chiens Jake & Winnie can go in & out as they please. This time of the year it's a perfect solution. I like to round up the cats every evening just when it begins to get really dark. Lulu's always very content to be in at night but Bleet, my solid black cat, would love to stay out and hang with the alley cats all night (although we have no alleys here in the village). We do have lots of raccoons and many reports of foxes and the odd car driving around in darkness and for these reasons I prefer that Bleet comes in. We go through the same routine every night he comes in around 7:30, happily, and within 15 minutes he's back at the sun porch door mournfully crying & meowing staring up at the doorknob as if it might magically turn & open at any minute. We suffer through this short lived performance and he eventually gives up and goes upstairs to lie on my bed. Every night it's the same drill.

Last night I couldn't find him. It was a strange and creepy kind of night last night. Really warm, almost muggy and really windy the leaves swirling around my feet as I trudged all around my big yard and little back forest calling Bleet. He's one of those cats that generally sticks close to home and usually comes when you call him. He also seems delighted when I come outside to join him in his yard so it's strange to be outside calling and wandering around and still no sign of Bleet. I started to think "where could he be". I peeked in my neighbour Florence's garage, although I couldn't really see anything, cat's are so famously nosy and curious that they often get themselves accidentally closed up in garages or sheds and out buildings. By 9pm I was beginning to think my day was now ruined because of my missing cat. I'd leave the front porch light on for him, I'd go up to bed with my book and I would come down to the kitchen every half hour or so and check to see if he'd come back. He did go missing like this once last week and it was midnight before he finally appeared on the porch.

One last trip outside for les chiens before bed and thankfully Jake barked a few times, in his senior dog deep gravelly woofy bark. I thought to myself that's perfect you call Bleet for me. Bleet adores Jake, that's another whole long story, but when Bleet arrived at 29 Black Street as a teeny tiny stray kitten he fell in love almost instantly with Jake, Jake became Bleet's Mama Cat and Bleet has loved Jake immensely from day one. Sure enough into the sun porch door, along with Winnie & Jake, comes my fat black chiclet of a cat- "brat! where were you?". Sigh. Happiness. Sigh. A great day in the city and now all my family are safe and accounted for and it's bedtime. All is perfect once again.

Jake, Bleet and the bunny

off to the city

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

the view from my upstairs hallway window

Yes I’m off to the city today, the one and only city in Nova Scotia. Halifax (I’m counting Halifax Dartmouth as one city or HRM I think they call it now). I have a doctor’s appointment and BFF Harry will be doing the driving (I don’t, as of yet, make that trip myself although I am ever hopeful that one day soon I'll get over myself, bite the bullet and just drive to Halifax) we've traded design work for chauffeur work. We’ll make a day of it. A little shopping, he’ll get a fancy pants city hair cut while I’m at the doctor, a little more shopping and then home again. I plan to do some live shopping at Loomis & Toles (the art supply store) usually I’m ordering the tools of my trade over the phone and it will be very nice to browse a bit in the actual store. I have a list of things that I need to pick up - pencil leads, a new mechanical pencil, grid paper, white gel pens (which I use as tiny fine white out pens) fine black pigment liners in a variety of sizes - all very exciting. I also need to stop at Zwickers gallery where I’m having four antique oil paintings restored and re framed then on to Pete’s Frootique and then across the street to Willows Pet Place (thanks to Paula) for healthy all natural dog food & treats – for the boy’s detox. Last stop The Italian Market where we’ll have a bite to eat and pick up a selection of Italian goodies to take back home to the village. Cheese, olives, marinated antipasto and the like. Yum.


Monday, October 22, 2007

happy dogs - Jake & Winnie Dixon rolling in the grass

A usual pit stop at the end of the grassy lane that leads to the back shore beach. I lie down in the grass with them, stare up at the clouds and feel like I'm 9 again. It's one of our favourite stops on our afternoon trek.

Lately I seem to be super aware of time, especially of time passing - time passing too quickly, hours and days seem to be rushing by me. I try scheduling myself by the half hour in an attempt at gaining control of, and slowing down the pace, but to no avail. I think of past days when it seemed I spent hours lolling about doing nothing (which is not at all a bad thing) and now it just feels like life is so full that I can't take it all in - easily or without a schedule. There are so many things to do and not ever enough hours in each day - or so it seems. And I'm not just talking about my infamous to-do list productivity stuff (chores & the lot), I'm also talking about reading the Saturday Globe & Mail, or leisurely going through the big stack of new magazines piling up by my bed. I think I'm mostly talking about the extra curricular (so to speak) activities.

I do know that television is a huge time waster and I have become very judicious and selective about the programs that I tape, and I do tape them. The rare occasion I find myself watching something during it's regular scheduled time slot I'm forever pressing the fast forward button on the remote during commercials. I'm so used to zipping though the commercials and thus cutting my viewing time (not to mention my annoyance time) in half. I actually (in my kinda OCD way) study the television guide at the beginning of each week, checking the Discovery Channel and PBS to see if there are shows that I should not miss, shows that I should tape, shows like Race to Mars, Antiques Road Show, Pacific Abyss & the odd Oprah episode or a movie on HBO which I always think I'll watch on the weekend, on a movie night (?). I've thought long and hard about giving up my TV again, I've actually done it two summers in a row a few years back, disconnecting the cable which renders my TV station-less. I'm not ready to do it again ... not just yet anyway.

Maybe life is really all about refinement. Over the years your tastes change, your needs become different, old habits fall by the way side and new ones begin. I think I'm in a big ol' transition period and this is a time in my life that I'm very aware of the choices that I'm making along that road to refininement ... I'm constantly tweaking and adjusting, the subtle small things, in my already near perfect life.

clouds #2

back to bed

Sunday, October 21, 2007

ornamental kale

A little cooler this morning and still damp although I see that the stars are out. This is one of those rare mornings when I've decided to take my coffee back to bed, think I'll lie awake in the dark, just listening to all the quietness of our early morning village. The windows are open and a fresh breeze is blowing in and over my bed, Oliver will come curl up on my belly and I'll have my morning coffee with silence & thoughts. I'm so, so busy in my head sometimes it feels essential, to attempt to slow that busy pace down and Sunday's do seem the perfect day for it. So I'll go get a refill and back to bed I go.

love & red leaves

Saturday, October 20, 2007

the first bright red fall leaves that I've ever had in my tree filled yard

And this one lone bough of crimson leaves just happens to be hanging directly over sweet Emma Jane Louise's grave - coincidence? I think not.

Plus 22 degrees (like a summer afternoon), blustery & drizzling rain here on Black Street this early morning. Freakish weather really, but I'll take it happily, being someone who'd much rather be warm than chilled. It's an inside day today and I have lots of to-dos on the list.

Another two great frame projects from my No.1 customer, thumbnails have been approved and I'm on to finished technical drawings, really the easy part, the put my brain on cruise control, sit at my desk when I know there's something interesting on CBC radio ... and turn my little thumbnails into full size creations. The fun part, the best part.

This morning I need to do some housecleaning - the plumber is coming, the plumber is coming!! (hooray, hooray). Akin to cleaning & tidying up for the housecleaning person I guess and I am quite sure in my heart of hearts, that the plumber won't be strolling through my house thinking to himself "wow! she's got a lot of clutter lying around" or "holy cow, look at the dog hair & sand on her floor" but you know how it is ... it's a female thing and I'm afraid my housecleaning gene is flawed ... but I do try.

I was thinking yesterday while on the beach with les chiens throwing sticks for the boy while Winnie happily laid beside me chewing her stick ... thinking to myself that there are SO many times in a day, through the week, in my life that I honestly feel so happy I feel like I'm going to burst. Happy to my core, happy to my soul. I realized that I often talk of slumps & lulls, of sleeplessness & frets, of plummeting biorhythms & frustrations and I forget to mention all the
(most often daily) wonderful feelings of gratefulness, of feeling safe & secure, of the unabashed, pure, mad love that I feel for my house full of animals - who give me so much joy each & every day, who make me smile and laugh, who keep me company & who I chatter away with all my waking hours. The feelings of appreciation that I have for all the amazing beauty & nature that's all around me every day and that I have the kind of peaceful life that allows me to pay attention to everything that I do have. I'm a lucky girl.

doggy detox

Friday, October 19, 2007

the sweet peas in my back garden last night as the sun was setting

Yawn! Here we are Friday again ... and amazingly for a week that felt so much like a slump week, nearing the end, it actually feels like it's been quite a successful week. A satisfying week in many ways. The last two days here in Nova Scotia the weather has been absolutely beautiful, warm and sunny by noon and our 4pm walks at the beach reminiscent of summer afternoons. Such glorious weather does, I think, help chase the slumps away. We had a very successful & fun trip to town, lots of giggles and animated discussions, while picking up a months worth of household provisions.

I've decided to put the boy on a bit of a detox - no wheat, corn, soya (fillers) as he suffers from extreme itchiness, a fairly common ailment, especially in retrievers and one that often gets progressively worse with age. I do make homemade dog food (hamburger, broth, carrots, brown rice, lentils) but I do also add a cup of high end lamb & rice kibble mixed in with the homemade stuff twice a day. He also has many of my homemade cookies (whole wheat flour), as well as loads of store bought cookies (god knows what the ingredients are) he gets from my morning gang of dog walkers.

It's heartbreaking to see him so itchy and I'm determined to help him at least be less itchy. I have millet flour to substitute for their homemade cookies. He won't be allowed any other cookies (I'll just make sure that I have a pocketful each morning) and I bought a holistic all natural brand of filler-free kibble in the natural food section of the Superstore yesterday to add to our homemade dog food. I've done a lot of research online and itchy skin allergies are really common in dogs and it's often difficult to figure out what exactly is the problem. But for 21 days, Jake is on a detox program and we'll see if it helps.

When I return from one of my big shops and I'm unloading the car I usually bring an arms load in first just to say hello and enjoy the "OMG you're back, we thought you were gone forever" greeting from les chiens - Winnie giving out lots of kisses and spinning around and Jake must go to the toy box and retrieve a big stuffed creature, bringing it to me smiling, wagging & wriggling. We have our happy reunion and then I let them out into their yard to pee and I continue with the unloading of the wagon - which is always filled to the hilt (I guess I don't go to town often enough). My usual habit is to just schlep, drag or carry everything just inside the door and plop it down on the kitchen floor and then in good time every bag, box or item eventually makes it up to the kitchen table or counter where it is dealt with. (I like to pour my dried peas and lentils into glass jars, some things for the freezer get divided into smaller portions first, etc) I take my time and try to put things away thoughtfully. I did bring Jake & Winnie each home a retriever roll, a coiled stick of rawhide, which they were now chewing happily on their beds in the living room while I continued on. Midway I thought I should just go upstairs to my office, check my email, check my blog, see if I have any phone messages. 15 minutes or so and I'm back in the kitchen dealing with my mountain of provisions and I happened to glance into the living room area and spied a tattered piece of clear plastic bag on the floor. Hhhhmmm? Closer inspection revealed the telltale signs of a few remaining sesame & poppy seeds - the bagels. Jake had devoured 4 of those huge Everything bagels and probably a bit of plastic bag along with them. My fault, he rooted them out of a grocery bag which was still on the floor.

Later in the afternoon as we walked up the grass lane, Jake happily carrying a stick back to the car I told him "so much for your detox there Buck". Last evening he was practically comatose he was so sleepy, which is unusual - he's a very high energy, busy dog even at nearly 13 - it's true, I guess, what those carbs will do to you. Well today is officially day 1/21 of the boys detox - we'll keep you posted.

going to town

Thursday, October 18, 2007

the lighthouse at the beach where we walk

Well I’m going to town (literally). It’s time for that once monthly trip, leaving the teeny village for the next biggest town for the big shop. I’ve gassed up the 97 Ford Escort Wagon –my dog mobile complete with sandy & hairy duvets covering the front passenger seat and the entire back seats. Winnie always sits in the front and the boy (Jake) likes to sprawl out over the back seat. Assorted stuffed toys and a collection of extra perfectly smooth fetching sticks litter the floor in the back. Had the air in my tires checked. I blew a tire on the way to town one day last year. It was awful. Rain coming down hard in sheets, and me and my car pulled over to the side of the road, not really understanding what had just happed ... I just knew something was horribly wrong. When I finally got out and walked around the car my back right tire just hung on the rim in shreds. Me with no cell phone (why would I ever need a cell phone- hello?). I tried banging on a few doors and eventually flagged down a school bus driver. was tres horrible, I was totally traumatized by the event and I now obsessively check the air in my tires, in fact at the suggestion of BFF Harry I'm going to buy my own personal tire air pressure gage - it's on the list. I don’t really enjoy driving much. I’m a cosmopolitan city gal who just happens to love living in the country but I do SO miss my public transit. I only learned to drive a few years ago and I did so only under extreme duress and due to ultimate necessity. So ...Gas – check, Air - check, $$ - check, the list - check. My friend Carol (who les chiens and I walk with every morning) is coming too. Should be fun with lots of stops. The Feed Store (Carol has donkeys), Superstore (great groceries), Walmart (passport photos & junk food ) Canadian Tire (picking up shiny new bathroom sink and bathtub faucets-with the hopes that the (one and only) plumber might actually show up to install them) and who knows what other exciting stops we may make ... I'm trying to leave a little room for just a little spontaneity. I am such a planner.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

red poppy, poppies are one of my favourite flowers

Wednesday, and my slump continues mid week. Just lower energy, less enthusiasm, thrilled when the sun begins to set in the early evening which then becomes my sign to kick back, cut myself some slack and do nothing. Am currently working on another of those momentum-less projects from my No.1 customer (and I'm a girl who thrives on momentum, tight impossible deadlines, frantic busy-ness and urgency are my drugs of choice). When things just plod along I slow down, become scattered and just plain blah blah. I have yet to learn how to create my own urgency within, I'm constantly needing that someone else is really counting on me to get me going. The current project is themed photo frames with very little feedback or direction, at this point, and I fear going too far down any one path as that can often end up a big ol' waste of time, which is always frustrating. I hope to be getting direction this week for my first two new big fish company jewellery design projects which will keep me focused (I'm hoping) and nose to the tracing paper for many solid hours straight. It seems there will be a ton-o-work from them. Yeah!

My attempts at a daily internet embargo have been pathetic - and I must reinforce the 9am, noon and 3pm rule again because it really does effect my productivity. It is tricky because I do use the internet tremendously for reference & inspiration. Yesterday I was searching to find ideas for decorative patterns bits for my frame thumbnails. I've been working for this same company for over 5 years and most times now I'm being asked to knock-myself off. To reinvent collections of frames that I've already designed that have been successful (sell well $$$) for them. The internet is a god send for ideas and I especially find scrap booking sites great inspiration for the kind of frames I'm working on now.

This early morning coffee & blog time I do recharge those batteries, give myself the big ol' pep talk ... you go girl! and all that jazz, get yourself ready for a fantastically productive and happy day! A demain!

remembering Paris

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

la Tour Eiffel

Sleepy this morning. Just woke up from a lovely deep snooze thinking that the boy needed to go out for a pee which would normally be anywhere between 1-3am (didn't stop and glance at the clock beside my bed), got out of bed, slippers on and down into the kitchen and lo and behold the coffee's ready and it's 5am and here we go once again. Big yawn! I guess I was tired from all the stewing & fretting of yesterday.

on the way up

Had a very long, multi topic phone chat with MLou @ 1 800 designer gal last night which was lovely. One of those people, thankfully in your life, that you have so many things in common with (common interests, common feelings, common neurosis, common career...) that you can gab non stop until "the cows come home" (they've been away). We reminisced about our trip together in 2004 to Paris and the Maison & Objet gift home show (everything beautifully designed in the world all under several roofs happening in one of the most amazing cities in the world). Two designer girls strolling down huge aisles in halls filled with so much stimulating, inspiring stuff everywhere that we would often grab the other by the arm and say breathlessly "I think I have to sit down ... it's just too much. Too much beauty, too much perfection". We had a ball on that trip and I can picture little photo slides in my mind of MLou & Susan gabbing around Paris. Not only did we spend days tromping down aisles of the show oohing & aahhing and shut up!!! look at that-ing, we also tromped, hiked, strolled over much of the city. The absolute best way to experience any city is a good map & guide book, good comfortable shoes and walk everywhere (and the bonus is you get so much exercise during the day that you can splurge at dinner with no guilt). We ate fantastic food, took lots of photos and talked non stop with each other - except when we were sleeping. I think she and I are due to plan another city adventure soon.

and ... the spectacular view from the top - all Holga camera images

Well, I finally have a new blog banner and I must confess my technical limitations made the whole process somewhat difficult (remember I am a mechanical pencil, tracing paper, kneaded eraser kinda designer) Illustrator & Photoshop both can be my banes at times, but overall I'm happy with how it looks for now. Helvetica Neue Light and any kind of fancy pants script my current favourite fonts.

4:30 am

Monday, October 15, 2007

Andy & Inez's home away from home in Harry's back 40

My close friend Harry has a large sprawling property and in the back field (back 40 acres), up on the hill, his parents have placed this little trailer, it's their summer place. They have a little vegetable garden, are growing grapes on a trellis, and have lots of flowers growing everywhere. I went over there this weekend to look after Harry's two dogs Eddy & Annie and the dogs and I spent some time roaming around the big property taking pictures and running in the grass.

It's 4:30 am with coffee ... I couldn't sleep. How can it be the middle of October already. Spent the weekend puttering at this & that and generally feeling overwhelmed. There just are SO many things to do, so many projects, so many chores, not to mention all the work that pays the bills. I'm afraid what often happens is I become so overwhelmed with the choices that I just spin my wheels in place, don't know where to begin, I can't seem to prioritize because everything and nothing feels like a priority. So I usually end up doing some mundane thing that ultimately doesn't matter much and thus really doesn't give me much satisfaction that's the kind of weekend it was and then I wake up at 3:00 am with insomnia thinking "well that was a waste of two whole days" and "what do you have to show for it?". What happened to living in the moment, and what about Vee's suggestion that I make a list only of things that I do accomplish, not the giant ever growing wish list of stuff that needs or should be done. I'm afraid I'm not at all spontaneous either, I take great comfort in being planned out to the hilt instead of adjusting the plan to suit my mood, feelings or even the weather. Sigh.

Well ... I'm up at 4:30, plying my fretting psyche with coffee, I'll have a nice hot bubble bath and wash away those dark annoying middle of the night thoughts and I'll start fresh ... once again. That's the best thing about another new day ... it's new.

ps 9:30 am - while walking on the beach this morning with les chiens and pondering my blah funkalicious state of mind it occurred to me that I should check my biorhythms. And ... sure enough, voila ! both my emotional and physical self are sitting almost off the chart at -100% (yep that's a minus 100%), phew, and thankfully my intellectual self a healthy +96% (can you tell?). There's really something to this ... see for yourself.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Em, Winnie & Jake from a few summers ago

I watched American Beauty last night on television. I taped it from HBO earlier in the week. Which is strange because apparently HBO is not available in Canada, but that’s my little secret - I have HBO here in my little village in Nova Scotia. I watched American Beauty soon after it was released on video back in 2000 and I remember thinking then that it was an amazing movie, one of those movies that you want to watch again right away because you’re sure you must‘ve missed things you were so engrossed (by everything - the characters, the dialogue, the sets, the cinematography ...). Well 7 years later and I finally watched it again and remembered what a fantastic movie it is, written it turns out by Alan Ball creator/writer of Six Feet Under which certainly now comes as no surprise. If you haven't seen Six Feet Under rush out to your nearest Blockbuster and rent a season at a time (5 seasons in total) and watch some of the best television ever.

American Beauty reminded me of other movies of this genre that have been favourites over the years. Dark, sad thoughtful movies that leave you wanting to be silent and keep you thinking for a long time after they’re over. Movies that are hauntingly beautiful and that truly make your heart ache. Five others that instantly come to mind that felt unforgettable after seeing them the first time and seem to be always on my list to see again.

The Ice Storm

House of Sand and Fog
Paris, Texas
21 Grams

still pulsing

Friday, October 12, 2007

I bought this little print on Etsy yesterday...and I love it!

Many other beautiful prints can be found from German illustrator/artist Katrin at her Etsy shop seasprayblue.

5:25 am warm, still, quiet morning. The two big windows of my studio are wide open and it's completely quiet out there ... and I sit, as usual, by the light of my laptop, breathing in the aroma of my first cup of coffee. This is my favourite time of the day - new, perfect, unspoiled & hopeful and if it doesn't pan out the way I'd hoped, I can start all over again fresh tomorrow.

I'm going to begin, this weekend, the reno/redo/decorating of my giant upstairs hallway - (I'll be sure to take before photos) which I've always wanted to turn into a library area, finally get all my books and magazines and reference material in one spot, just outside my office. Also have plans to have a few custom pieces made for this area (very affordable locally) and those measured drawings need to be done. A storage credenza, a window seat and a giant radiator cover. The rest is paint and labour and lots of CBC radio to keep me company.

Pulsed that food processor lots both last night and the night before. I made a giant batch of hummus and then a huge batch of basil pesto last night. How satisfying & comforting to know that I have bags full of pesto cookies tucked away safely in my freezer. This time I did a smaller batch of basil without the Parmigiano Reggiano or pine nuts so that I could use these plain intense basil cookies in Thai Emerald Curry (broccoli, peas, green beans, green pepper, green curry paste, coconut milk & a big blob of fresh basil) served with Jasmine rice. Today I'll make the Italian Parsley pesto (just oil, lemon & parsley) and freeze it as well in cookies. Great to add later to a big pot of seafood chowder or stew. I considered making Brioche dough from the Baking with Julia (Child's) Cookbook, thinking that I needed a food processor for this recipe (for some reason I've always wanted to try and make Brioche dough, with a capital B - it's probably the inner French girl) but ... you actually need a heavy duty stand mixer (which Harry also has) so that's for another weekend. But ... I'm sure I'll come up with a few more recipes that involve "pulsing".

little things...

isn't that Oliver again ... and didn't she say she lived with 4 cats

I know, I know ... it would appear to be favouritism but really it's just because he's such a little shadow cat, he's always around. He sleeps on his little bed by my laptop, occasionally rising up to stand in the patch of sunshine, eyes closed, perfect contentment, Buddha-like and oh so photogenic. Honestly besides being the near perfect cat I think he's a bit of a ham.

little things that make me happy...

snoring sleeping tired dogs
diet ginger ale with lots of ice
a hot & steaming plush face cloth
aromatherapy dish detergent
milk chocolate m&ms
putting my face in Bleet’s belly
5am and the last sputters of my coffee maker
the smell of fall
Canada geese
crunching leaves underfoot
warm rainy days
having Harry's food processor for the weekend

all sorts

Thursday, October 11, 2007

licorice all sorts - a favourite of mine both for their good looks and taste

Just stood outside for a minute or two with my coffee, it's an absolutely beautiful, still and warm morning. The sky is clear and filled with a thousand million stars.

I'm tired this morning. Busy, full, mixed bag, all sorts kinda day yesterday. One which by noon I could feel the beginnings of one of those head aches and the kink at the base of my neck was getting worse. I was just packing the sweeties up in the car when I happened to glance out my kitchen window and realized that the platform that I had made under the window to feed the birds had overnight become a raccoon feeding platform. They had climbed up on it so they could reach the feeder (now empty) of black sunflower seeds, washed their sweet little hands in the water feature and the platform was now covered in raccoon poop. Sigh! The sweeties waited patiently in the car while I cleaned up and repositioned the feeders so that the platform was no longer directly under them.

Just as I was finishing up, a truck pulled up in front of my house and I'm thinking "don't tell me that's chimney sweep No.2 "(whose not supposed to be there for another 2 hours at 9am). It was BFF Harry with a humongous basket of fresh basil, another of Italian parsley and his food processor (on loan for the big pesto making event). Perfect!

Chimney Sweep No.2 had happened to call me to see if I needed my chimney cleaned, before I had a chance to call Chimney Sweep No.1 (who really was my preferred guy) No.2 has irked me in the past but I do like his wife and I do kind of feel bad for him ... so ... "Oh Well sure, he can come and do the job ...see you at 9am Wed!".

Off to the beach, late and because we were late we had a rushed much shorter walk, swim, fetch than usual. I don't like to rush and I have carefully planned my day to day life so that no rushing is required. To me rushing is totally counter productive to my attempts at a serene, live-in-the-moment, chilled out life but ... I needed to be home by 9am to meet No.2. Chimney Sweep and I finally was having a conference call with the design team from big fish Chicago gift company at noon.

Fast forward to noon, no sign of Chimney Sweep No.2 and no phone call. This is the thing. Shit happens, stuff comes up, all I ask of these guys (plumbers, yard men, brick layers, chimney sweeps...) is can't you call me and let me know that you can't make it. Eeeerrrrgggghhhh! On the bright side I did use the time between 9am and noon while I paced around in a POed state to cook a bunch of stuff, file several months worth of receipts, tidy my office, file my project folders, hang out laundry, brew a headache, etc ... however, on principal, I'm afraid No.2 has lost the job.

Conference call was amazing. Wow! I felt like a designer queen, it really was a big deal. Not a "sure we'd like you to work on a project or two" it was a "we're so thrilled to have you as part of our team, and we can't wait (whenever it is convenient pour moi) for you to come to Chicago and meet everyone". It's all (initially) jewellery design (thrill, thrill, happy, happy) and would I be interested in designing my own line of jewellery under the big fish brand (Shut Up!!!). This is when my head (all for fantastic reasons) began to pound. I was conscious of remaining SO cool on the phone while chatting with the human resources person and 4 designers. Why do we feel the need to be cool & collected, why can't we gush. I was SO gushing on the inside. Hung up with promises of loads of great work direction to follow shortly and the sweeties and I danced around my office/studio. yeah, yeah. Whipped off an "I'm so thrilled and happy to meet everyone" email to HR and tried to get some of my other day job work done.

3:30pm. Jake is beginning the restless act, my head hurts and I have a kink in my neck SO let's go get ready and see if we can't unwind with a big walk on the beach. The tides low, it'll be just what we need. Quick stop at the post office where I picked up 2 magazines (I'm a full blown magazine junkie) and a big parcel from MLou @ 1-800-design help. She and her geo-physicist husband had just gone on a little trip to a geo-physicist convention in San Antonio via Chicago
(very smart is the new handsome, I reminded her in a later phone call. I've always loved saying my friend's husband is a geo-physicist). The parcel contained an amazingly thoughtful assortment of Chicago info & stationary items (bus & metro maps, brochures, a pop up map of the city, info from the Field Museum - she knows my love of Natural History Museums and all things science & nature , a post card of Sue (the biggest T-Rex skeleton found), several greeting cards, 2 from Great Arrow another company that I eventually want to work for, and the highlight - a package of 12 vintage map of Paris file folders from fav company Cavallini. I called her when we arrived home from our walk and she and I had a perfect, hour long, catch up phone chat.

6pm. Chicken noodle soup on the stove for dinner (comfort food) and plans to pulse (food processor) all evening, instead I washed the sink full of basil, attempted a zen like state as I relaxed and spent an hour, in the moment, pulling the leaves of basil from their stalks in preparations for pesto making (which will now be bumped up a day). Then I folded my, just brought in from the line, laundry - stopping to breath in deeply that exquisite, freshly hung out, scent and ... sigh ... said a big thank you for another great day.

horse chestnut

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

perfect smooth soft chestnuts and their spiky coverings

I have a large Horse Chestnut tree in my front yard and this time of year the ground is littered with chestnuts, many still in their spiky green ball of protective coating, some that are cracked open revealing the amazing treasure inside and many shiny bare nuts, just waiting for moisture and their second life to begin. The Horse Chestnut, it would seem, is a very efficient tree at propagating new little chestnut trees. I clearly remember gathering chestnuts as a child, from a wooded lot just down the street from my house on Pleasant St. and how it seemed incredible that something so perfect, so shiny and polished could appear out of that craggy ball of green spikes. We would carry these balls to the sidewalk and gently step on them, gradually increasing our weight, just until they cracked open and then prying with our fingers to reveal the treasures inside. Sometimes in amazement we'd find two nuts inside, one large and flattened at one end and then another little baby chestnut nestled in beside it. We would rub them on our face to feel how incredibly smooth and perfect they were and we'd gather huge armfuls, carrying them in a basket made from the fronts of our sweaters or jackets. I can remember using a large darning needle and trying to make a big beaded necklace out of them or just a garland of shiny clunking nuts. In the end we would take them home and proudly display our newly found treasure in a bowl, we had plans to keep them but they didn't stay shiny and perfect and new ...within days they turned dull and ordinary ... and now I can see that so much of childhood, the thing that has us have such fond clear memories, is that we were experiencing, as only children can, that life isn't about the destination ... it's about the journey.

in the garden

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

geraniums in the back garden

A much better day yesterday in every way. The weather was beautiful, started out cool & still blustery in the morning and high surf canceled the boy's stick fetching adventures but we had a long beach walk regardless. The cottagers are gone now which increases the variety of routes we can choose from in addition to the beach - through fields, down lanes & across pastures. Home to my desk where I worked at my day job until 2pm and then went outside and worked in the jungle, that is my garden/yard, until just before 6pm (cutting, sawing, pruning & raking and general fall clean up). The afternoon temperature was much nicer, warm enough to just have a t-shirt on and Winnie and Jake hung out in their dog yard, taking turns working on their excavation (a giant pit that they are digging very close to the sun porch door), just on the other side of the fence.

It always amazes me how much I can accomplish and how satisfying it is , working in the garden ... this is the time of year, when all the fall preparation for a new season will help to make the spring gardening that much easier. I organized a bird feeding platform just outside my kitchen window where I already have 2 bird feeders hung but I wanted to add a water dish and a place to put fruit and other tidbits for the birds and thus also enhancing the bird viewing experience from inside (kitten TV ). It’s hilarious to watch Gussie Gus & Ver, their bodies flattened out on a pillow, that sits on the table that I have pushed up against this window, chattering away, their tails swishing back & forth as they watch the birds who are literally inches away from them. I made veggie pesto pizza for dinner, watched a bit of taped TV and then to bed with my book, feeling satisfied, happy & content. A perfect day.

The 2 new books by my bedside are On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan and The 100 Mile Diet A Year of Local Eating - Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon


Monday, October 8, 2007

maritime breaded scallops with tartar sauce & lemon

It's a holiday here today, a statutory holiday which means that shops are closed, no banking and no post-office. Yesterday was my holiday, a total waste of a day in which I accomplished very little, ate potato chips and licorice all-sorts (although I did get a few lovely photographs of the all-sorts before I ate them - still life with licorice to be posted at a later date). The tree guy arrived a day early, banging loudly on my door, disturbing me from my one and only small burst of productivity at my desk and that seemed to be the catalyst to screw the rest of the day up. If you really want to piss me off - tell me that you're coming to do a job in the yard on Monday and that you'll call me first to let me know when you're coming and then arrive a day early, with no phone call, two kids in tow that I end up entertaining (we gathered chestnuts which actually was kind of fun, I taught them how to gently step on the outside spiky green shell so that it cracks and then you can pry it open revealing the perfect polished smooth treasure within and it all brought me almost instantly back to my own childhood on Pleasant St), while you haphazardly flit from tree to tree trimming a few branches. But I need him, he and I will barter for business, I'll design his arborist logo, business cards, signage etc... and he'll help me deal with the jungle. I have many, many big beautiful trees that need his care. So...the day was a bit of a write off, but then Sunday's are allowed to be that way. It was cold & blustery and the perfect kind of day to waste. I had breaded scallops for dinner (instead of turkey), I would have had oven roasted fries with olive oil, garlic and sea salt - a healthier version of fish & chips, but I was too full from the potato chips and all-sorts. Thank goodness today's a new day.

salt & pepper
1 egg beaten
fine breadcrumbs

Heat oven at 400 with cooking pan inside. I use my pizza stone but any oven safe glass or metal tray/pan will do. Heating the pan first helps the scallops (which have a very brief cooking time) have a crisp bottom. Season flour with salt & pepper. Toss scallops in flour until lightly coated all over then in egg and then roll in bread crumbs and place on a plate. When all scallops are coated with crumbs put a tiny smidge (smidge = 1/4 –1/8 tsp.) of butter on each scallop. Remove heated pan from oven, gently place scallops on pan and return to oven and cook for 5-8 minutes, turning the scallops once if you like. Crumb coating should be slightly browned and crispy looking.

Tartar Sauce
mix together
2 Tbsps light mayonnaise
1 heaping Tbsp. of favourite relish or pickles chopped fine
squeeze of lemon juice
splash of both Lee & Perrins and Tabasco
1tsp. of Dijon mustard

Serve with a wedge of lemon

giving thanks

Sunday, October 7, 2007

gourds, no two alike or so it seems - yet another autumn tradition

It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, which really means for most people a huge turkey dinner and a lie on the couch. It's really no different then any other weekend here at Black St. My dogs don't tolerate turkey well so we don't have turkey, in fact we don't do anything out of the ordinary except, maybe this time, really pause to give thanks. I have a tremendous amount to be thankful for and I do try to remember to be thankful every day. When we reach our big rock at the halfway point of our afternoon walk we all sit (the dogs and I) I look out to sea, take a few deep, deep breaths and think "how did I get so lucky that I have all of this...everyday?" That said I don't feel like it's a focused enough thanks, it's a tiny half hearted calmness, my busy, busy mind is usually still chattering away above my breathing. A million miles a second, things to do, concerns & worries, self criticism (there's always lots of that), and lots and lots of mundane whirling thoughts.

This blog has helped me so much to be thankful. It's funny at the beginning back in July, I remember saying to someone "I think could blogging be a kind of spiritual journey or experience for me" and it certainly turned out that way ... I am thrilled to be able to read back now over several months and relive my day to day existence. To read and see what's important and cherished in my simple little life. To have a written and visual record of what I love, and especially of my family of cats & dogs and I look at everything now as a potential photograph which has helped me to really see, so much better, all of the amazing life around me.

You can take your own spiritual journey every, single day. Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat Pray Love has these three daily suggestions: (excerpted from

Start a journal and answer this question every morning: What do I really, really, really want? "You have to say really, really, really three times or else you don't believe it. And answer it truthfully and do it again the next day and the next and the next," she says. "Because you can't set your journey if you don't know what you're for."

Write down the happiest moment of every day in a happiness journal.
"It's a way of reminding myself what really makes me happy and what doesn't," she says, "and learn and study and look back and see what is it consistently."

Refine your mantra.
"I say refine, not choose, because we all actually already have a mantra. We just might not realize that we do. Whatever you repeat constantly in your head is your mantra whether you know it or not, and that is leading you on your way," she says. "So if you're repeating, 'I'm a moron, I'm an idiot, I'm a failure, I'm a jerk, I'm a loser,' it's your mantra. So decide whether that's working for you. … Maybe it's not and then maybe you might want to choose a different thing to try to say whenever you remember that you're thinking what you're always doing."

more life with dogs

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Jake, Buck or Noodle hero dog, sweet, gentle & perfect in every way

This is his season. He's got a job to do and he takes it very seriously. He was put on this earth to retrieve things from water and as much as he loves his food & treats and loves his people ...get outta his way when there's a stick being thrown into the ocean. I've mentioned earlier in this blog that Jake will be 13 this Dec 04th and my heart literally swells with happiness as I watch him every morning bound through the waves on his morning mission. Returning to shore, wet and dripping, he has the physique of a very young dog, trim & shapely and not an ounce of fat. This job he has keeps him healthy, and that's the important thing. Most dogs do have jobs, historically most breeds were bred to work at something. Guarding, hunting, herding, retrieving ...dogs were only meant to lie around sleeping because they're exhausted from their real job. I believe that to have a happy & healthy dog you need to make their lives interesting and purposeful's just like us, how boring would our own lives be if we didn't do anything all day. Mid morning every day I sit at my desk and draw and listen to the contented snoring breath of tired dogs and the twitching paws of chasing rabbits in their dreams, they're pooped for now ... but by 3:30 each afternoon Jake begins his campaign to get me to leave my desk and let's get going again. He barks from downstairs, and if I don't respond to that he comes upstairs to lie by my desk and sigh deeply and eventually he will begin to whine & whimper... like clockwork every day.

It's important to somehow try and recreate their day job in your own daily life. Now there are exceptions - take Miss Dixon for example, she's a terrier mix, bred to kill rodents and small mammals, now that's a tricky one to recreate especially with a house full of cats. She seems, thankfully, to have turned the kill mode into lord over mode and since the arrival last summer of kittens Gussie Gus & Oliver she has taken the role of Kitten Police very seriously. Our two big long walks a day, sitting at the beach lapping up lots of love and pats from the girls that we walk with, driving in the car with her head out the window and making sure the kittens aren't doing anything that she doesn't approve of, seems to take up the better part of her day. Winnie's tires much easier because she's anxious - she wears herself out worrying about this & that and really her job in life seems to be to feel loved & secure ...that's an easy one - so she's happy to just lie on the beach and chew on a stick and be a spectator to her brother's athletic endeavours or to plod along happily with me wherever I might decide to go.