mo boo

Friday, October 31, 2008

That would be mo ... boo ... humbug !

Yes it's true. I'm afraid it's boo humbug again this All Hallow's Eve here at 29 Black Street. It's just too nerve wracking for Miss D who hates anyone knocking on our door, let alone ghouls, ghosts and creepy masked short people.

So ... we'll turn the lights down low, draw the drapes (I actually don't have drapes but wish I did on a night like this), we'll hunker down by the fire, read by candlelight, talk in hushed voices lest the ghouls discover us and we'll pretend we're not at home. However, Winn and I do wish all of you Halloween reveler's a ghostly good time (a certain Edward & Apple and the Good Witch who takes care of them leap instantly to mind) .

I have been very busy here at the teak topped desk. Can you tell. My newsletter project revisions have lagged on but I think last night I may have sent the final, final version off to my customer for one last review before it goes off to the printer. I am behind my own schedule, as usual. Now onto two small full colour poster designs - which of course must be tres beautiful and nothing less than absolutely awe inspiring - but no pressure please. Sweet tiny apples yet to prepare (that didn't happen last evening), wood to pitch in the sunporch and to stack in neat rows and I'd love tomorrow to gather some more beautiful fall leaves and press them between sheets of wax paper like we did when we were kids. Sigh.

more lovely leaf crafts from our Martha here.

crab apple

Thursday, October 30, 2008

crab apples displayed on the index pages of a vintage paperback atlas

A project for this evening is preparing these crimson beauties for jelly. Growing up, Crab apple jelly was always a staple condiment on our dinner table and over the years I have longed to have a jar or two of this beautiful deep pink jelly stashed away in my pantry. This year I put the word out that I was on the hunt for crab apples and I was rewarded a few weeks back with a cardboard box full, delivered to my front porch by my friend Harry.

crab apple jelly

Wash apples, remove blossom end, halve and remove stems. Barely cover fruit with water and cook until very soft. Extract the juice by tying the apples in cheesecloth and suspending over a bowl until it no longer drips. Do Not Squeeze! Boil 8 cups juice with 6 cups sugar (3/4 cup sugar per cup of juice) to the jelly (use thermometer). Optional: Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or lemon juice. Pour into hot, sterile jelly jars and seal. Note: It's best to keep the batches around 8 cups.

How easy does that sound ?

some good news - my first two cords of wood arrived yesterday dumped in my front yard. I am so into frugality this fall/winter (what with the cost of heating oil) that I'm actually thrilled at the prospects of putting my own wood in (with some help from this Sunday's garden elves). I had a small amount of wood left over this year and I've so enjoyed having fire's already in my fireplace insert (like a wood stove with a fan that fits in your fireplace opening- a bit homely but sure helps heat this old brick house). I love being warm and toasty and it's a great incentive to be pitching logs.

Some bad news - I need a new oil tank, 1000.00. A drag, but I knew it was coming. My oil tank, which is in my basement, is and has been increasingly rusty and this year when the furnace/boiler tune up guy arrived for our annual service call he gave me the final diagnosis. New tank required.

More good news - apparently I have a beautiful boiler (this old house is heated by hot water - cast iron radiators) the best he's seen in his maintenance travels this season. Wow. Do you service it each year ? he asks me and I reply I sure do. That's the reason he tells me, your boiler is in fantastic shape ! I blush and glow a little with pride. I kid not. As I get older I am constantly amazed at the things in life that can thrill me.

Just plain lavender & bubbles this morning avec rain and cooler temperatures.

politics etc.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

good morning cows

listening to the sound of the wind in the trees outside my studio window and while working at the teak topped desk I'm listening to CBC radio, Bill Maher podcasts (available at itunes) and Jon Stewart's The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert both available for your pleasure here. Could there be a better time for political humour ? I think not. I'll confess I am totally obsessed with the US election.

eating tuna melts on whole wheat english muffins with homemade broccoi soup

smelling apples, wood, damp air, sand bars and fallen leaves

working on tucking in my newsletter project and then posters for both our little village's Christmas by the Sea extravaganza event and the local Animal Shelter's big annual fund raising event (that's where Miss Dixon, Jake, Oliver & Gus all were adopted from)

walking with Miss Winnie Dixon while it's still dark each morning down into the park and onto the crescent beach where we sit on a big rock and watch the sun begin to come up

today's big deal event getting my hair cut after lunch by the new, young & hip hairdresser in town then immediately walking to the post office for hair chat, the critique and hopefully squeals of delight and of course to pick up my mail

reading Unstuck and Dark Summit

wondering about fractels and tonight with my dinner I'll watch last night's taped episode of a favourite PBS show- Nova all about fractels

looking forward to MLou and husband (home for a spell from Thailand where he works) avec chain saw etc. arriving Sunday for a day of group chopping, hacking, wood stacking, mowing and general yard and garden clean up. sigh.

more leaves

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift
Alberst Einstein

It's mild and windy and rainy here this early morning. The windows are all open and there's wind inside this old brick house. I love that. Sigh. Sweet Oliver is sitting here beside me, eyes closed and purring - the sweetest softest calico kitten that I've ever known. I'm still groovin' with my 12 page newsletter giant jigsaw puzzle. I should finish up today, with a few minor revisions by noon tomorrow (I'm hoping - this customer is famous for minor revisions. Smile) and then ... another big project put to bed.

And I'm just trying my best to keep on keepin' on ... living in this moment.

I do know & believe that is the secret to finding contentment but damned if it isn't a struggle to keep that motley crew, you know the gang I'm talking about (Ache, Sadness, Loneliness, Self Pity their new friend Acedia) from partying all night long and hanging around all day playing video games and messing the place up. I'm listening to Eckhart Tolle again - you can watch or listen also - here )

And hey, thanks for all the nice comments yesterday, Winn and I are so glad that you enjoyed coming with us on our evening walk down to the crescent beach. It is very beautiful isn't it ?

an evening walk

Monday, October 27, 2008

Come on an evening walk with Miss Dixon and me

I can watch these big ships coming and going from my studio window. The park and the gravel path along the harbour's edge is a mere stone's throw from our front door and the crescent beach is at the end of the street a few minutes walk away. Sigh.

oh no ! perhaps I'm suffering from acedia - while groovin' all day yesterday, workin' away on my 12 page newsletter here at the teak topped desk and listening to my beloved CBC radio 1 (have I told you how much I love CBC radio ?) I listened to this very interesting interview with Kathleen Norris on a favourite Sunday afternoon show- Tapestry. Her new book is called Acedia and Me. You can listen to the interview here.

Few people today have encountered the word acedia, which literally means not-caring, or being unable to care that you don’t care. In some ways, though, acedia defines today’s culture, expressing itself as willful indifference, restless boredom, or even frantic busyness. Norris discusses both acedia and its opposite–the zeal that draws on faith, hope, and love.

off to the land of bubbles.

puttering again

Sunday, October 26, 2008

cosmos, curious cats & colours of autumn

It's windy this early morning. Pitch blackness outside my studio window which I have open a crack so that I can hear the wind. It's not quite 6am. I'll confess yesterday I did not rendezvous avec la Beast Rouge and I did not accomplish nearly the amount of outside chores that were on Madam I's early morning task master list ... I got to puttering. You know how that goes, you spend an entire day busily puttering, yet at the end of the day you can't quite remember what it is you actually did. Sigh. It seems I spent yet another day camped out in non-urgent and unimportant, that fourth quadrant that it is my nature often, to gravitate to ... especially on the weekends.

I did take lots of photographs, I strolled around in our back petite forest collecting leaves of different shapes and vivid fall colours, I cooked squash and roasted cauliflower and potatoes with cumin and coriander, I made a plum crisp. I hung out towels and pillowcases on the line to dry in crisp fall sunshine, I swept and did dishes and I pruned houseplants (gerbera daisys and geraniums) newly arrived back inside from their summer home on our front porch. I picked cheery pink cosmos blossoms - a fall favourite of mine. I filled up the bird feeders with nijer seed and oiled black sunflower seeds and watched bluejays and chickadees and sweet tiny finches.

And in the evening Miss D and I watched the sun disappear across the harbour as we strolled along the gravel path heading home from our evening walk.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Winnie Dixon posing for me last night at the crescent beach

Last night was an absolutely glorious evening. Miss D and I enjoyed an extra long walk along the harbour's edge and down onto the crescent beach. It was as warm as summer, the flags on flag poles hung limp, not a breath of wind and the light had that amazing warm glow of the setting sun. I took lots more pictures but they'll have to wait.

I've begun the dreaded (past tense) 12 page newsletter project - much like a giant jigsaw puzzle - pages of text and charts, photos and bylines, blurbs and bits that must be magically fit together in a sensible and aesthetically pleasing fashion. I used to work at a magazine so I do have that layout thing going for me but I always have to find that groove again. It's a lot different from drawing little thumbnails on tracing paper. Yesterday morning I thoroughly tidied up my little studio/office vacuumed and mopped, dusted and filed and that felt SO good (phew), had lunch out with a girlfriend and then as soon as I was home again I began the newsletter project ... and happily found the groove.

Today is forecast to be another spectacular fall day. So since the groove has arrived and it's not going anywhere I've decided to spend a good part of today working outside doing the yard and garden tidying that so desperately needs doing, (tomorrow's forecast is for rain so I'll throw myself into the newsletter groove then). Today I will spring La Beast Rouge from her tidy shed for one last spin around, I'll clip and mow, I'll rake a bit and empty pots of annuals, I'll sweep the walkway and the front porch, while basking in sunlight and smelling that amazing smell of fall air, is there anything better than the smell of fall leaves? Early this morning, before our walk I'll make myself an egg salad sandwich, wrap it up in waxpaper and today I'll have my lunch outside.


the path along the harbour's edge ... two minutes from our front door


Friday, October 24, 2008

favourite thing #1

I bought this big hard cover book in a bargain bin nearly 20 years ago. A sound purchase. A book I still love. I love the care and attention, all the fine detail and washy colours of these painted fish. Pre photography natural history paintings.

I've decided to document some of my favourite things. Those things in life that continually make you smile and make you feel happy, that bring comfort or joy, things that you're glad to have around you. Some of mine are very sensible and practical, some whimsical or unusual, and others are just simple everyday things part of daily rituals (my favorite fat coffee mug or a steaming hot face cloth that magically always seems to cure all).

Akin I think to being grateful, in these times when thankfully purchasing new things is not always fiscally responsible (in my case anyway) - and really, don't we already have more than enough things ? I know I do - and the bigger questions lurk can I really afford that, and do I really need it ? Kill joy. I do still have my weak moments, just this week for example I spent far too much time attempting to rationalize a $110.00 (with shipping) purchase of personal care (mostly bath) stuff from my favourite smelly good things shop - Lush. Frugal girl did win out in the end but it was a bit of a battle for a time. I think it is the silver lining to this financial crisis - our wake up call. It's important to look around and appreciate the things that we already have that mean a lot or serve a purpose in our life and weeding them out from, and finally saying goodbye to, all the many things that don't. Discerning the difference between want and need. Simplifying. Embracing less & reveling in small.

I wonder what some of your favourite things or rituals are ?

red leaves

Thursday, October 23, 2008

more autumn perfection

I am tired this morning. I've been going full tilt these last few weeks. At my desk all the time and what a lovely big huge teak topped desk it is. I stop for a bit at noon to make some lunch, tidy the kitchen and yesterday I made a batch of much needed (ask Miss Dixon) home made dog cookies. Then back at it until 5:30pm or so when Winnie and I have our early evening walk in the park and down to the crescent shaped beach. It's a chance to slow down and remember the moment that I'm in, to stop rushing along, to look up at the sky and watch the wind whipping the clouds by, to notice the ever changing trees and leaves, to breath in deeply and to slow down, all the while Winnie is enjoying her nightly sniffing extravaganza. Boy oh boy there sure are a lot of good smells in that park. Quitting time is between 7:30-8pm - I just fade by then I'm afraid. It's a very rare occasion and extremely tight deadline that would have me be at the teak topped desk much past 8pm. I've really been enjoying my cozy living room (must take some photos) these past fall nights. With a fire blazing in my fireplace, my furry friends curled up all around me, a little taped television with my supper - more perfect pm snug-ness.

I'm working on 12 photo frame drawings for customer No. Uno (hope to be finished up by noon) and then I'll instantly switch to my 12 page newsletter project... which I'm now almost a week behind on (thankfully mostly my own self imposed schedule). Working this weekend I hope to get caught up.

So ... windy, dark and sleepy here at 29 Black Street this early morning. Think I'll head back to the nest, snug up with my girl Missy D and my second cup of coffee.

Illustration & typography wow !


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

autumn collections No.2 brown and No. 1

I do feel a little less sad today. It really does help to talk about it here on my blog. As soon as I've posted I feel better. I feel a big release. Phew ! that's off my chest. This has become my community and it's so good to talk things out and I do appreciate hearing how you feel about sadness, how you deal with it and that it does affects you too. That you understand and can relate. Heidi at Emergence Journey left a comment very early in the day that made me feel very OK about speaking the truth. My truth. It's so hard for me not to - remember heart-on-sleeve girl lives here (camped out most of the time under a dark cloud).

I talked to MLou yesterday and she reminded me (again) of how much time I spend alone, just me and my thoughts here at the teak topped desk day after day. A drawback, you could say, of being self employed (my co-workers don't talk much, although they do give me loads of comfort in their silent fashion). And oh the trips and wild adventures those thoughts can, and do, go on. Left by themselves, no supervision, no discussion or alternate opinions, suggestions, or other perspectives they often go wild - those thoughts. Or just participating in the banal everyday office chit chat that can take the sharp edge of Sadness - a great recipe tried the night before for supper, a funny incident or a joke. I know you know what I'm talking about. Sadness is very familiar to me, it's much like an old friend. An emotion that I'm strangely comforted by because I do know it so well. It just seems to love hangin' out with me and I'll admit there are many times I do encourage it. Come on in, sit down ... I'll put the kettle on.

Windy, cool, and rain in the forecast today. Lots of paying work on the teak topped desk. A busy drawing day today. A perfect snug and cozy day ahead of me ensconced in my little second floor studio, a shaggy black dog sleeping on her bed at my feet and a soft calico cat staring at me through half closed eyes. Sigh. After a bath with lavender and bubbles and a long windy walk on sandbars with fleece mittens and headband with my best girl Winnie Dixon.

I taped Oprah and watched it last night with my dinner and saw an amazing interview with Jill Bolte Taylor a brain scientist who at 37 suffered a massive stroke and has since written a book about her experience and from a brain scientist's perspective - My Stroke of Insight. Totally fascinating. I immediately ordered the book from my library and I will spend part of today, while drawing here at the teak topped desk, listening to her 4 part interview with Oprah on Oprah's Soul Series. You can also watch these interviews - scroll down and click on download.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the bluest blue lobelia

courage is the power to let go of the familiar

Raymond Lindquist

I listened to another of the interviews found at Oprah's Soul Series yesterday while drawing miniature photo frame thumbnails on tissue paper. This one, a three part conversation between Oprah and Byron Katie. And yet another message from the Universe meant just for me. Byron Katie is the author of several books including Loving What Is : 4 Questions That Can Change Your Life

Loving What Is - what a concept. Even those three words all by themselves have a lot of meaning to me. There's no question I'm stuck, I pull a foot out of the mucky mess from time to time, but I always seemed to get sucked back in. The overriding emotion and feeling that's stuck in my life, in my heart and in my soul is and has been sadness. The loss of my big red dog Jake broke down the dam that had been holding all of that at bay, Sadness that's been living there a very long time. His kind spirit and all the deep purposeful love I had for him, seemed to keep all that badness away, now it's spilled out and all around me. And along with Sadness comes a whole bevy of friends and cohorts. Jealousy, Envy, Impatience, Self Pity and A Meanness of Spirit ... just to name a few. Ugly, nasty friends that you can't imagine you'd ever want to associate with. But here they all are - hanging around in your home and in your life. It's why I miss him so much, when he was here that sadness didn't seem to matter, it had no real strength. He protected me from it. Always.

I'll listen to these interviews again today ... I am trying not to give in to Sadness but there are times when I just feel too weary to fight it. Here is an interview with Byron Katie explaining the concept of The 4 Questions and how to apply them to your own situation (there are lots more video clips to be found at

The flip side or the silver lining, and there always is one isn't there ? Now that Sadness is out and staring me in the face ... I can see my foe more clearly than ever before. Now I have to learn how to deal with it and ultimately I must learn how to live without it.