the perfect thing

Thursday, July 31, 2008

isn't nature absolutely perfect just as it is - freshly picked raspberries

Well once again it's time for coffee and my early morning therapy session. Uh huh ! It's true. I think that's why I always loved keeping a daily journal - it was a chance for me to get some of those many, many thoughts out of my head, down onto paper and away from me - for a different, and most often, much needed change in perspective. Now I have a blog - which is a billion times more satisfying. For one it's a place for me to be extremely neat & tidy. Somewhere to express, visually, many of my perfectionist tendencies and for all the world to see (or so to speak). A place each early morning to put a few of those little thought bundles that rattle around in this head of mine - and leave them here - see if others have opinions or thoughts, concerns or questions. It's like a kind of group therapy, it's definitely a support - and it is a community, which is amazing (and especially lovely for recluse girl - you know that girl who spends most of her time talking to animals). Here's an article in Scientific American on the therapeutic value of blogging - brought to my attention by best girlfriend MLou. And finally, this blog is a place for me to indulge a life long passion for photography (so this is why I spent a cazillion dollars on this old digital camera - nearly 6 or 7 years ago). This blog is so many things to me - and none of which I ever anticipated. It is the perfect thing.

Oops -there's that word again. That's a word I am trying not to use, a word that I'm trying not to live up to or to fit into. A word that should be banished, at least temporarily, from my vocabulary. And that's a tough one.

perfect - Supremely excellent in quality or nature. Entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings. Accurate, exact, or correct in every detail. Excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement. Oh sigh ... be still my heart.

That said, I do think this vintage green cardboard basket of just picked fresh raspberries must be - the perfect thing.

three dogs & a redstart

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Winnie with Emma Jane Louise in the background

Yesterday at supper time as thunder boomed and rain came down hard in sheets, I lay on my bed beside an open window, listening to both the rain and the wind in the leaves and I could also hear a bird in the lilac tree outside my bedroom window. It's a song that I've heard a few times recently in my garden and one that I felt sure was not a song from one of our usual suspects. A new bird, a visitor. Pulling back the gauzy sheer curtain (that side of my house is completely covered in a lush, big leaf, ivy vine and curtains are not really even necessary) I could see a small greyish bird flitting madly around from branch to branch and all the while singing this new (to our garden) and distinct song. This little bird managed to stay still for a minute and close enough to my window that I could see a few flashes of brilliant yellow on it's wing and tail. Hhhmmmm. Peterson Field Guide of Eastern Birds to the rescue - simply the best nature guide books that I know of. A female American Redstart. They're preferred habitat is forest which I guess is why she's hanging around my yard - in my overgrown and tree filled yard and garden she thinks she's in the forest. You can listen to her very distinct song at this site

Finally cooler temperatures and overcast skies here in our little village this morning. A break from the sweltering heat and humidity that's been fairly constant for the last several weeks.

These are Holga photos from a few years back - a cheap little plastic camera that takes 120 film, a much larger negative. I love the dreamy quality and the perfect saturated colour. And sigh ... more memories, captured forever, of my most amazing three dog life. Em, Jake & Miss Winnie Dixon.

Miss Dixon and my handsome boy Jake comin' ashore with his sticks

still life No. 7

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

still life #7

More polaroids from the seemingly endless archives. The sky is just beginning to turn a lighter grey blue outside my studio window, Winnie's snoring softly near-by and it's Tuesday. Monday blew by with a busy day in town with a friend. I had a longstanding appointment that needed meeting, we had lunch out, a few groceries picked up and not home again until nearly supper time where I was greeted with spins and twirls and lots and lots of mad sweet kisses. I miss her when I'm away all day and she misses me too.

The weather in this little village continues to be hot and sultry. It's fan weather. But there are thundershowers in the forecast for today and it looks like we'll finally get a break from the humidity.

Working on building my creative empire No 1 on the agenda for today.


Monday, July 28, 2008

A stack of biscuits fresh from the oven

Among bakers, one hears the expression "She has a good biscuit hand". Like pie crusts, biscuits are a measure of a bakers talents and a pastry in which bakers take particular pride.

To have a good biscuit hand is to have a light touch and restraint–a biscuit dough is so soft that it invites poking and prodding, kneading and mashing, when it should be barely worked. The golden rule with biscuits is to stop doing whatever you're doing to them two beats before you have to. So when you're rubbing the shortening and flour together and there are still some chubby chunks of shortening–stop. When you're tossing the flour and shortening mixture with the milk and the dough looks only just moistened–stop. And when you turn the dough out onto the counter and knead it just to work it into a mass, count each knead, get to ten–and stop.

Baking with Julia written by Dorie Greenspan

It's strawberry season and therefore ... it's biscuit season. I'm constantly trying out new biscuit recipes, always on the search for the perfect biscuit - soft and flaky, a mile high and tender with a slightly crunchy crust. The dry ingredients most often stay the same but I've been experimenting with different recipes using butter, cream or shortening for the fat required to make the perfect "short" biscuit. This particular recipe is from the book Baking With Julia - and that would be Julia Child. It's written by Dorie Greenspan who has her own great food/baking blog here. It's a big beautiful coffee table cookbook, glorious photos and equally fantastic recipes. A book that was the companion to an amazing PBS (love my PBS) series called Baking With Julia. A show where each week she had a different famous pastry/dessert chef or baker guest to make with Julia one or two of their particular specialties.

I would say that I have finally found my go-to biscuit recipe. Leave out the sugar and lemon zest and it would be a perfect biscuit to accompany savoury dishes or to top Chicken Pot Pie. Yum.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup of solid vegetable shortening
1 cup of milk

I also added 1 tbsp. of white sugar for Strawberry Shortcake biscuits

I would also add a tbsp. of finally chopped lemon zest and next time I might try buttermilk instead of the 1% milk that I used

Preheat oven to 425 - place rack in the centre. Un-greased baking sheets. I used a pizza stone.

Stir dry ingredients together. Add shortening and with fingertips rub the flour and shortening together making little crumbs until most of the shortening is mixed with the flour. Don't worry if there are a few larger pieces left. Add the milk and stir with a fork. You'll have a sticky dough.

Dump the sticky dough onto a well floured surface and knead the dough 10 times, no more. I rolled and patted my dough into a circle about 3/4 - 1" high and then cut the circle into triangular biscuits. You can brush the biscuits with melted butter or whipping cream and sprinkle with sugar before baking. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden on top.

The sounds outside my office window are mostly the usual suspects this morning - crows and seagulls, a distant cat squabble. But also a ship is leaving the harbour and the haunting and beautiful call of a loon swimming somewhere nearby. The sounds carry incredibly in this early morning stillness.

Oh and I have an amazingly neat and tidy garden shed ! How totally satisfying does it feel to have that job done - and done well I might add. I even had the time to mow the the other half of my lawn. Most of the items that I dragged to curbside including old wooden window frames-all 12 of them magically disappeared overnight. Our yearly big garbage day pick-up becomes it's own kind of Freecycle.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

a big pot of red geraniums on our front porch

The last few early mornings I've been going downstairs and flipping the coffee switch on at 4:15 (eek) I know this isn't good ... and that I'm treading dangerously near the beginning stages of becoming one of those odd & eccentric middle aged women. Who am I kidding ? You know the one who's anti-social, keeps to herself, lives with a house full of cats, the path to her front door is so overgrown with wildflowers that you need a machete to maneuver up it, and the lights in her house are lit when the rest of her little village is still asleep in darkness. The drag is, it's yet another vicious circle, the earlier I get up the earlier in the evenings I begin to feel sleepy and then without fail - Ping ! Wide awake every morning at 3:35 or so. I manage to convince myself to stay in bed, some deep breathing, some prone meditation perhaps, surely if I just relax I'll fall backwards into sleep. Then we factor in the Bleetness, the big, fat, black velvet, chiclet cat who must be let out under stealth of darkness to roam with the raccoons and who will pick at my mattress with his claws and chirp and stomp around my bedroom until exasperated, and oh look at that - the clock beside the bed says 4:15, I get up ... 4:15's not so bad. Flip the coffee on, let the Nessie out, feed the other starving beasts and here I sit once again - this morning with a photographic study, taken yesterday, of red geraniums in a big patch of sunlight.

I am cleaning out my garden shed today - home of La Beast Rouge. Please note the absence of the words try, plan to, should, hope to. I am cleaning out my garden shed today. Tomorrow is one of those big or weird things garbage pick up days and I unfortunately have quite a few of those big and weird things that need to be gone and this is my chance to have them magically be taken away by the garbage fairies in their big noisy trucks. A few old windows from when this old house still had wooden framed windows, 4 car tires from my old little Mazda 323, an old rusted filing cabinet, a billion of those little garden centre multi plant pots, and god knows what else I may find, .... etc. Thank goodness that I am a friend of the insects because my shed is home to a variety of the creepy crawly kind that I'm likely to disturb with all my frantic pitching & sweeping. Cleaning out the garden shed was on last summer's list of summer to-do's, along with barbecuing sausages and swimming in the ocean a minimum of three times.

The shed. The one and only task on les agenda for today. Great Sunday CBC radio, my portable radio with a long extension cord wound out into the back garden, a fresh big pitcher of ice tea with lemon ... who knows I might even mow the other half of my lawn.

dreaming & scheming

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Miss Dixon doing her best impression of a retriever

It's cooling off a bit. It's been hot, hot, hot here. But since we are a Cape Cod of the North it has been perfect weather for all the summer visitors & residents. Perfect beach weather. I say with hushed breath and only to those I know really well ... it's too hot, it's too sunny, it's bringing me down. But then I'm a girl who loves the rain, I do love a dark and stormy sky.

This morning it is raining, just showers. Enough to water the gardens and then the skies are supposed to clear by noon. The village is a buzz this weekend with another summer festival - A Harbour Festival - lots of boats and boating events, pork BBQ in the park, entertainment on the park's stage, dances, regattas and on and on. I live so close to the park and the harbour that I'm really smack in the thick of it ... whether I want to be or not. Bah humbug.

Yesterday was a frantic day of drawing madly, thumbnails rushed off to Customer No Uno by 1:20 (noonish her time) then dashing out for an appt. and a few errands. One of which was to pick up La Beast Rouge. I left her out in the rain (sad face), first time ever, and I do feel terribly guilty. Her carburetor got wet and she would not start, so ... off she went to the small engine repair shop and thankfully she's fine once again, and safely tucked away in La Shed I might add. In-between emails back and forth from my customer and waiting for further direction she (La Beast Rouge) and I whipped around the yard. I managed to mow half of my yard - the worst half and the half that needed mowing. I am a firm believer in only mowing when it is absolutely necessary - when you're reaching the point where the grass is getting long enough that it could make mowing unpleasant (the clogging and the stalling and the pop-a-wheelie mowing position) and those of you are regular readers know that I find mowing unpleasant enough to begin with. Even though it was stinking hot yesterday, there was a refreshing strong breeze blowing up from the harbour and it made mowing an almost pleasant task and I always feel SO fantastic when that job is done for another 7 days or so.

Our early morning beach trek and then the Farmer's Market this morning for fresh vegetables and home baking, then home again for our usual weekend plans of tidying up, cooking and a bit of yard work - interspersed with some reading and some endless dreaming and scheming.

Here are some photos from yesterday's early morning beach walk.

winnie & jake

Friday, July 25, 2008

handsome, handsome with a young Wanda Cameron leg

It's been 6 months ... half a year, we're well into stick fetching in deep water season and still so many times I just can't believe he's no longer here with us. That face, that handsome, kind and gentle face just makes me feel weak in the knees. Where did my boy Jake go ?

It's hot and sticky here in this little village. Winnie Dixon and I waded around in knee deep water last evening to cool off, her sweetness following exactly my every step. I had the fan on all night pointed at my bed, not oscillating. I'm not a fan of the oscillating wind or breeze (pardon la pun). I woke up at 4:00 am from a crazy movie dream by the sound of glass breaking. A kitten accident an empty drinking glass knocked to the floor by some dramatic leaping. I felt really wide awake so I got up, turned the coffee on, fed the starving beasts, let Bleet out to roam with the raccoons in darkness, and flipped through the new August Vogue in bed with my first cup of coffee. Then gradually made my way here to my desk, and to my computer. An email from Customer No Uno telling me that a project that I had been lingering with, thinking I had the weekend to hunt down my usual brilliance (yesterday the brilliance was totally evading me) had now become an urgent ASAP project, she must have drawings by this afternoon or she'll have to give the project to one of her in house designers. Nuh uh ! says moi. Oh how I do love that threatening kind of challenge, and it always magically seems to get those creative juices a flowing.

So ... brilliant thumbnails of photo frames of the wedding/romance variety on the agenda for today.

Beach glass treasure packets have been mailed and are winging their way south - in the past mail to the US seems to take at least 2 weeks.

Miss Winnie Dixon was three in this picture and Jake nine and a half

great blue heron

Thursday, July 24, 2008

herons at low tide

As Winnie and I walk along the harbours edge each evening we stop to watch the herons. Large statuesque birds wading slowly and silently around in the shallow warm waters - fishing, hunting. There are so many Great Blue Herons here that it's easy to take them for granted, this giant spectacular bird, standing 4 ft high with a wing span of 6 ft. When they fly swooping low over the water they remind Winn and I of ancient pteradactyls their cry, a drawn out squawking yell sounds prehistoric and makes us ponder the recent theories of dinosaurs evolving from birds.

John James Audubon print of a Great Blue Heron available at

More grey skies outside my studio window, my beloved CBC radio is playing low in the background, a full cup of java sits here beside me, crows argue and finches chatter ... it's another brand new day here at 29 Black Street.

heron at dawn - another matted print available soon in my etsy shop


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One (or 1 1/2) perfect cloud(s) floating in the sky above perfect calm waters

love her - my sweet Winnie Dixon as we walked through giant tide pools

Well it's only 5:30 am and I've already run the gamut of friggin' emotions this morning. Beginning with the it's 3:30 am I'm wide awake and it's still too early to get up so why not just lie here and worry a bit drill, to the nearing 4:30 am intense cat squabbles (a daily occurrence). Bleet, Oliver and Gussie are all up and carousing around and one of them dares to walk within a foot of La Queen Lulu - she then makes the most god awful squawking screaming yell - you'd think someone had leapt on top of her and was biting her ... but no, no. They might have glanced in her direction as they walked by. I'm a very patient mama but I tell ya ...this early morning routine rubs my very last nerve raw. How am I supposed to practice my calm deep breathing with all this ruckus. So I get up, stomp downstairs dramatically, flip the coffee on, and come back to bed to organize my day in my notebook (or to organize that other girl's day - you know the girl with the ever grand illusions and super human powers - with a wink to Paula), I begin pouring my bath of bubbles and scent and sit down with my delicious first cup of coffee at this darn computer and gradually, deep sigh, I begin to feel less frazzled, less overwhelmed, like maybe I can do this ... just breathe.

I do a little early morning scouting around a few blogs that I like to visit and ended up here at Posy's blog and go figure a visit to her blog made me feel great, once again - back to myself, or to one of my selves - to the self that I like the best. I am a bit surprised, as sometimes her seemingly perfect life, filled with all of her perfect things, her perfect designed and handcrafted projects, perfect meals and perfect photos can make me feel - well ... let's not beat around the bush, kind of depressed and a bit bummed out, like I'll never measure up. But today, like so many other days when I visit her blog ... it made me feel inspired.

And inspired is how I want to feel.

carrying on

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

another favourite polaroid from the vault - Michael

A summer polaroid, from long ago. The same Michael, the nephew who's just turned 20 and is about to enter his third year of university. His blog is here.

So now it's Tuesday which is always so much better than Monday - at least this week. Tuesday's are for carrying on ... the plan's been loosely mapped out on Monday, a list of items to cross through, as the week progresses, with lime green highlighter, and a new list compiled each evening of accomplishments, the little things that for some reason never made it to the big list but never the less must count for something. All the components for my etsy shop opening have either been ordered or samples are on their way. Photographs are now being printed with vibrant coloured inks on heavy watercolour paper, archival mats are being custom cut and shipped east and samples of cellophane sleeves, envelopes and kraft card mailers are winging their way here. Mailing labels and a Susan Black Design promo card/bio to slip in each sleeve are being designed by moi. Several new illustration prints are in my head, clear as day and need to spill out now, to be painted on paper. There's still lots to do, so many little pieces ... but it's all gradually coming together. For today I'll just carry on ...

It was a sleepless night last night. No Worry & Fret hangin' out with me - just no sleep, or very little. I was awake off and on from 2:30 am. I don't feel tired this morning, I'm happy with my coffee and the birds, Winnie Dixon snoring at my feet and the sky just beginning to turn pale blue outside my window.

There's rain in the forecast for today ... and you know how I do love the rain

that darn fork in the road

Monday, July 21, 2008

another 3 x 3 matted print coming up soon in my etsy shop

Monday - I'm thinking Mondays seem to be the very opposite of Sundays. Mondays are the get back in that saddle day, make a big dreamy list of all things that you'd like to accomplish. It's another new chance to become the person you've always wanted to be. That other person who lives inside of you, taking up just a tiny little space. Everything has the potential to magically shift and change and I do believe that. But Sundays - they're for dreaming and relaxing and puttering. Sundays are no agenda kind of days, they're free days, days meant for spending the afternoon lying on a bed under an open window reading a novel and eating cheesies. Carefree ... or as carefree as I'll ever be.

It's still pitch black outside and rain is steadily falling on the leaves of the trees outside my studio window. I stare into the glow of my giant 24" monitor, my big favourite Starbucks mug filled with fresh coffee sits here beside me, and it's another Monday and once again I have two paths in front of me. Always that darn fork in the road.

Why is it so difficult to choose the everything's going to be OK road, the optimistic and hopeful road. In my past when I've taken this route things have often been even better than OK ... I could choose to believe that yet again in my life some big wonderful thing is waiting ahead just around the next corner - another trip to LA or China even, a new exciting customer who loves my work. Where do all those accomplishments go. Lately it feels like this particular road has become my much less traveled path. I keep sticking to the road that I'm so familiar with, the path that I can race down with my eyes closed - I know it so well. It's the path where danger & badness lurk around every corner, Doom & Gloom live down this road in a little house near Ache & Tears. I know in my head that it's all a choice and one I'm thinking about, always, it seems.

Which path to take ? And then once I get myself on that right path ...
how to stay the course.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

my most favourite summer vegetable - peas

Not snow peas, or sugar snap peas just regular old peas in the pod, the kind that you have to sit and shell. One pod emptied into the bowl and the next into my mouth. Sweet, green, raw, new peas. - every alternate pod full of peas eaten as is. I have loved peas for as long as I can remember.

We have a farmers market every Saturday morning in this little village and after our morning walk at the beach, Miss Winn & I, will stop there to fill up our cloth bags with new carrots, peas in the shell, green and yellow beans and tiny new potatoes. Sometimes we'll treat ourselves to a homemade loaf of bread, or fresh baking powder biscuits to take home and make shortcake with. Strawberry shortcake or later in the summer - peach, with real cream only, whipped with pure vanilla extract and the tiniest bit of sugar.

The air this morning is damp and there's a misty fog over the harbour, the water under this mist is as still as still can be. Like glass. There's no wind at all. And another early Sunday morning awaits us.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

hey there's my sweet girl - Miss Winnie Dixon

my little black, scraggly shadow, following me, wherever I may go - love her

It's raining this morning. It rained all night. When I first opened my eyes, a bit passed 5am it was raining very hard, it was pouring. We need rain. Lawns have turned golden and crunchy, gardens are suffering, and farmers are worrying about this years crops. So the rain is good, I'm hoping it rains all weekend ...
because I love the rain.

I was awake at 3am. I'm a very light sleeper at the best of times and I woke feeling sure that I'd just heard the distinct squeaking sound of a terrified, in-distress mouse. Leap. Plop. Oliver's up on the bed. I turned on the light and sure enough, my sweet Ver sitting there, proudly presenting me with a tiny little mouse, right there, beside me on my bed. The little mouse, as it turned out, was doing a fantastic impression of a dead mouse and I had an empty water glass by the bedside. Quick thinking and fast forward to a still trembling, but otherwise no worse for wear, little mouse being gently deposited outside - on our front porch where he quickly scurried away. Phew ! Carnage averted yet again. Back to bed my bed to lie there practicing my deep breathing while listening to the sound of hard rain hitting the roof and the many leaves outside my bedroom window.

Magically, as seems to often happen, the rain has let up just as we're nearing our morning walk time. I'm running late so I must get dressed and gather Miss Dixon.

I've just updated 29 Black Street 4 Sale (finally) ...this time of the year, selling this old brick house is not front of mind I'm afraid. I feel like I live in a summer heaven. I do.

And ...congratulations ! the winners of beach glass treasure packets are - Judy, Anya & Nancy K. I still have Judy & Anya's address (they won last time as well) and Nancy K can
you email me your postal address please.

Happy Saturday !

my three dog life

Friday, July 18, 2008

joy, love, kindness, companion - Jake

Sometimes I wonder if I might be missing something with only dogs for companionship, but then I think about the mornings. First there would be the discovery that there is no milk for someone who takes it in his coffee. Then the likelihood of conversation. I need to be quiet with my coffee. I want to listen to the birds. I like to sit on the sofa with the dogs. Suppose another person were here? What if he had opinions ? What if he used the word postmodern with a straight face ? What if he wanted to explain how many feet from a dwelling a cesspool needed to be ? What if he wanted to talk about the pros and cons of raising the prime rate ? what if he wanted to talk about his childhood ? Or worse, mine. I can put up with the barking because he'll stop for a treat (and because I love him so much), but people are different. You can't shut them up with the offer of a dog biscuit.

Lots of people in my somewhat leaky boat are on the lookout for a human companion. Not me. I have learned to love the inside of my own head. There isn't much I'd rather say than think. Of course there is the rare bird with whom I am in sync, the odd person who can make me laugh my head off and with whom conversation is not an imposition or a chore, but these people are few and far between.I can talk to them on the phone. I can invite them for coffee.

Dogs make good company. They are happy to accommodate you.

Abigail Thomas - from an essay in Woof ! Writers on Dogs

This morning was one of those early mornings when I woke up with that feeling, that feeling of ... big sigh ... life just keeps going on, and here you are in it ... so best rally yourself, girlfriend. I plod downstairs to feed hungry cats and to pour myself a cup of coffee. I knew what photos I would post today but had no idea what words would accompany the images of my sweet boy Jake.

I was up a little early this morning and I decided to take my coffee back to bed for a bit. I opened the pages of the latest issue of Oprah's magazine to this excerpted essay. Serendipity - funny how things like that happen. There were my words ... she's written my thoughts. Adapted from Abigail Thomas' essay in Woof, ! Writers on Dogs. She has also written a smallish book, a memoir called A Three Dog Life. A book that I did pick up at the library once but didn't actually read, didn't get to it. I must order it again.

I miss my own three dog life. There are times I long for it and I wonder, where did it go ? I want it back, or I want another life just like it and as yet I'm still too afraid to try and find that life again.

love ya, miss you ... sleep tight sweet Noodle


Thursday, July 17, 2008

my upstairs hallway looking into the guest room - new pale blue-ish paint colour

The chair in this corner and under the window has over the years, and continues to be, a most perfect dog look out spot. A very popular perch with all three of my pack - Emma, Jake and now Winnie. A place to announce loudly that a courier van has parked curbside or that some other dog and person dares to walk on our street. Smile. I'd like to make a new washable slipcover for that chair ... and alas, that project would be about No. 432 on the big list of things that I would like to do. The list that comes after the lists of things I must do and things that I need to do ... but hey, I'm not going down that road this morning.

Thank you all for the oh so supportive and encouraging comments regarding my upcoming etsy shop update. I am very excited about this next chapter in my 29 Black Street ad-venture. Shop update should happen the last week of July ... and you can be sure that I will keep you posted with lots of previews and details.

I'm sleepy this morning. That happy, contented, slept well, kind of tired. Worry, Fret, Ache & Sadness seem to be away for a few days and I'm enjoying the peace and quiet until they return. My house needs tending to ... Wink. I've been busy this week, the days and early evenings have been speeding past and I've left my usual trail of clutter & debris behind me. No. 1 on la list today is to clear a path and I'll reward myself this afternoon with several hours of pure, all out, creative time (I want to work on a few new illustrations for this upcoming etsy shop update). I have so many new ideas - I must get a few more out of my head and down onto the paper.

There's a lot of high speed kitten thumpin' and a bumpin' and charging around going on downstairs - part of our every early morning drill. The sky outside my studio window is turning pale lavender with streaks of cotton candy pink clouds and the only other sounds we can hear (Miss Winn & I) are the birds and my fingers on this keyboard.

the big picture

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

peonies #1- 5x7 matted photo card with envelope

Well actually ... it's a 5 x 7 picture.

Yesterday I worked most of the day getting ready for my etsy shop opening. It seems what started out as a fairly straightforward idea of selling small high quality prints of both my photographs and some of my illustrations has turned into a job with many, many parts and components. Things have evolved as often these things do. The photographic prints will be printed using a process called giclee - on heavy archival matte finished paper and the illustrations printed on heavy bright white card stock on a big beast of a colour laser printer. I always knew that I would source both a cellophane sleeve to protect the prints and a heavy card mailing envelope - all relatively straightforward, especially now with the world at our keyboard and fingertips.

I first began getting bogged down in choosing a size for the prints - my thinking I wanted it to be easy for my customer to choose and find the ideal frame (please take note of the word ideal). In my picky, picky designer head - not at all an easy task. I'm thinking Ikea - Ribba frames, (because I like them) and oh no, they come in really weird sizes and they're not available to order online, you have to find an Ikea store. Sigh. So right from the get go I am way off course - I'm worrying about frames, molding, sizes, colours - I'm not selling these prints framed, yet I'm becoming way, way too hung up on the frame - not good.

Years ago I was the creative director for a large giftware company and I can remember saying many times in planning meetings to my co-workers. I know I'm way out there, big huge picture, blue sky and all - and it's your job to reel me back in. And they would. Thankfully. My opinion being you never want the creative crowd to feel confined in their thinking and brainstorming, you want them to have the ability to go wild & crazy with ideas. Works great when you're part of a team. When someone can hand you a nice box of parameters and say here you go - this is what you have to work with. It's why I've continued to thrive working for other people, instead of working toward building my own creative empire, it's so much easier when someone hands me the parameters of a project and I'm not left sitting at my desk all day dreaming up my most brilliant and perfect idea (please take note of the word dreaming).

MLou to the rescue yet again. We talked about it over the weekend, a lot. And because she believes in me and wants to see my big dreams come true she has taken on the task and role of parameter hander outer. Thank God ! Also of deadline giver. Merci Beaucoup ! I'm a maniac when a customer gives me a deadline I am extremely conscientious and pride myself on never missing even the tightest of deadlines - but Hello ! give myself a deadline and I will find a billion small, insignificant, unrelated and unimportant tasks that for some reason must be attended to first. What's up with that ? MLou is now my customer. Hallelujah !

I still don't have a final date for my etsy shop opening but I can tell you that the first shop update will include a series of photo cards 5 x 7, the front a small photographic print (3x3 and 3x4 images of life here at 29 Black Street), beautifully matted with an off white mat, ready for framing and the back side of the print opens like a card with a place to write a message. Each photo card will come in a cellophane sleeve, with a kraft colour mailing envelope. I will also have a group of illustrated cards (no mat), same packaging.

Is it a print ready for framing ?
Is it a card to mail to a friend ?
It's both !

and 20 different designs to choose from.
Please stay tuned for more details.

diligence & practice

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

my girl, the girl with cheeks of sweetness - Miss Winnie Dixon

I'll confess ... I have times, fleeting mostly (but fairly frequently fleeting - say that 6 times), when I just feel like I wish someone would look after me. I've been living on my own caring for me and my family of animals (3 dogs and 4 cats for a time, now 1 dog and 4 cats), maintaining and growing my little self employed business, caring for this old house and garden for what seems like forever. For the most part I am and have been very content with all of it, happy as a clam ... but oh I do have times and this is one of them ... when I just feel tired. Tired of having to do all the thinking, all the worrying, all the caring, all the planning and all the doing. I'm sure this frame of mind, that's here this morning with me as I have my coffee, is a result of having la big support, my friend MLou here for two whole days this weekend. She's gone home and we're back, once again, to the daily grind.

It was a big, heavenly, break in my normal routine. The routine that lives mainly in my head and is a well worn tape that's playing on a continuous loop. I woke up this morning with the tape already playing. Sigh. A bit of whoa is me, a bit of tired and resignation, and a bit of sadness walked down the stairs with me to pour my morning coffee. I came back upstairs and sat here and read this blog's comments from yesterday ... and the tape stopped playing. I can see this life from a different vantage point when I read these comments and that is so nice. Just what I needed. Merci !

I realize that's what's important about having relationships in life is that they help you to see yourself through someone else's eyes, thoughts and feelings. Instead of always looking at yourself from your perspective - with all your tired preconceived and often negative opinions of yourself and your oh so tired, been the same forever, life. For those times when you don't have someone around to mirror back that new and fresh perspective, the kind and caring thoughts, the little tiny things that make your life unique and wonderful. I know you need to do it for yourself.

Not at all an impossible task ... just one we're totally not used to doing and one that requires constant diligence and practice.

D & P. No 1 on the agenda for today.

day 1, year 2

Monday, July 14, 2008

mermaids tears, periwinkle shells and crockery shards with script

MLou and I spent the entire weekend painting my upstairs hallway. All the trim and 4 doors had been painted a dark country blue for far too long for me to admit to. I'm not a dark trim girl. I'm a creamy white trim girl. In fact as much as I have put up with and lived in conditions that, let's just say are aesthetically far, far less than perfect, I'm a girl who always will hold out for the perfect. I know what I don't like ... but sometimes it takes me a very long time to decide exactly what I do like. Now finally my upstairs hallway is very close to being perfect. The space that will soon become a library space ... all my books and magazines (back issues of Gourmet and Australian Vogue Entertaining - 'cause you know how much I entertain - Wink !) will be organized and in one place. How lovely.

My big sunny hallway is now painted a very pale - not grey, not blue, not green, not white - perfect colour. Like air or sky, it's one of those colours that looks very different as the day's light changes. I love it ... and it's absolutely perfect.

Another big project almost finished - I will give the walls one more coat and then I'll paint the floors the same chocolaty black as the guest room and studio/office space. This was a job that I certainly could do myself, but painting for two days with a best friend and a endless list of hot topics to discuss makes a job that could feel very tedious and lonely at times, easy and simple.

So non stop painting and chatting - was the theme of the weekend. Add in the fact that MLou is my biggest supporter, my one gal cheering squad, another designer who lives on the same page with me and the person who believes in me way more than I'll ever believe in myself ... I feel, this morning, like I've had two days of not just painting, and perfect camaraderie but the most fantastic, intensive, all weekend long - life coaching/therapy session. This has been a very tough year for me and I'm on the brink of a brand new and exciting chapter in my life. I've been fine tuning and tweaking big new goals and dreams and to spend a weekend with someone who believes in you completely and only wants to help you achieve those dreams - is to me the true gift of perfect friendship. I don't think I would have survived the last 6 months without her. She's taken care of all my sadness and treated it with only kindness and respect. Exactly what I needed and exactly what I wanted. I'm very lucky to have her in my life ...

July 14th - day 1, year 2 of 29 Black Street, my blog which represents in words and photos this, new life of mine. And to celebrate the beginning of year 2 I'm having another give away little packets of beach treasure. Please leave a comment on this post sometime between today July 14th and Friday July 18th and on Saturday Miss Winnie Dixon will draw 3 names and I will package up three little bundles of beach treasure and send them out into the world wherever you may live, far or near. If you won last time (Judy, Anya, Mary D. and Vee) and you'd like another packet please put your name in again.

Also my blog of the week is my nephew, and Mac genius buddy, Michael's blog (he's 20 and about to enter his third year of university - a Business/Marketing degree - he wants to be an ad guy). We spent a few hours on ichat Friday before MLou arrived and he's decided to post a new photo each day for a month on his blog. I think he's very talented and we both share a love of photography ... check out his blog here.

365 days later

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Winnie Dixon & Jake

This is the image I posted 365 days ago - last July 13th my first blog entry. Not a surprise that the first photo that I posted on my brand new blog was a photo of the two things that I love most in this life. Jake, the love of my life dog, sadly is no longer here with us. Still so hard to believe - he does live on, thankfully, larger than life here on this blog- here at 29 Black Street.

Am on the run this morning as MLou is here and we're having an action packed busy weekend. Stay tuned for tomorrow's anniversary beach glass give away in celebration of 365 consecutive posts. We're just off now to la beach for our morning walk. More painting and chatting on the agenda for today ...

more cottage life

Saturday, July 12, 2008

beach glass, periwinkles, a cottage bouquet and sweet, sweet Oliver

Yaaawwwnnn ! She takes a big sip of her hot coffee (avec a tiny bit of sweetner and lots of milk) in her favourite, chipped Starbucks mug (the other non-chipped mug of course is for guest - still sleeping) and resumes typing by the light of her computer monitor. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Stayed up until midnight last night, chatting. Gasp ! This from the never-stays-up-much-past-9pm-girl. So I'm sleepy. Crows outside my office (and guest room) windows are having an early loud and raucous breakfast meeting. The harbour is very still, no wind at all this early morning.

a big day of cottage living awaits.