merci 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009

In 2008 my heart felt broken, smashed - and irrevocably or so it seemed at the time. In 2009 I slogged along and with the help of that girl I found my feet again and then suddenly, out of the blue, all of my dreams (and then some) magically came true. Ache & Sadness were replaced by Love & Safeness. A magical shield of goodness has been formed around me. Strong, steel cutting arms hold me tight and protect me and I realize that this is everything I've ever wanted.

and I feel so very grateful.
Merci 2009 - and Hey ! Bonjour 2010

For every dark night, there's a brighter day

Tupac Shakur

Happy New Year
keep on rememberin' that Everything & Anything is possible - if you believe it to be so

Miss D, Piper Belle, a cowboy and his brown hound Bess in the snowy cold hayfield

provide & protect

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

1 ton cast iron boiler being sawed into 200lb pieces - sighing swoon

proof ! - pas de figment of my ever rich imagination. Today we enter our 3rd month of this crazy, mad, sudden, completely out of the blue love. Just lately I've been noticing that the endless and varied declarations of love, melting swooning gazes (or plain unabashed ogling at times), and pure and simple adoration - all directed my way most often with great intensity have begun to wane. Alarms go off. Alert ! Alert ! Could this be a sign that this love itself is waning ? Always my instant, go-to thought and fixation. Insecurity rears her ugly head (again).

After a bumpy chat I am reminded that cutting up a 1 ton cast iron boiler and removing two black steed loads of scrap metal left behind by bad guys, fine tuning the heating system and cleaning out our basement so that it's empty, dry and beautiful are also all declarations of love and perhaps of the truest variety. Sheesh !! After breathing in iron dust for hours, schlepping 200lb pieces of old rusty boiler to the used steel pile the cowboy went back to his home to bathe and shave and put on clean clothes, then off to the grocery store with a list, shopping for the ingredients to make our dinner last night. So many more declarations of love ... and I'm spending time worrying where did the swooning ogling gazes go to ?

Infatuation and swooning crushing love is being replaced gradually by real big love and the cowboy is doing his very best to provide and protect for me and us and our new home and life.
And I have gotta give him lots more credit than I do. More lessons just keep on a comin'.

my handsome prince avec his cast iron filled black steed. I am crazy about him.

keeping up

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

cabbage roses and the sweetest, softest cat ever - Oliver (in his office space)

Oh my ! I am still trying to keep up with this new and wonderful life I've been living. Today the plan is to be back to the TTD in full swing. The cowboy will arrive in an hour or so with a supply of metal slicing blades. Today - No. 1 on les home reno schedule is to remove all metal from the basement, lug it to the pick up truck (the black shining steed of my prince charming) and off it will go to the lands of waste scrap metal. I'll help him with the major stuff, the holding of pieces that still weigh a ton (while the sparks they will fly) and I'll help him lug the pieces up the narrow basement steps and through the open hatches and into daylight and I'll go with him to the giant metal pile on the outskirts of this little village and help him unload - then he's on his own - No 2 on his list - he's redoing our heating system for ultimate efficiency while I'll continue trying to recreate some of my old self employed designer gal life.

I tell myself constantly to be in the moment I'm in ! to live in each moment I know in my heart that the keeping up with life will magically happen. Challenges & lessons continue to abound.

from the basement up

Monday, December 28, 2009

a harbour view of brown and ice and cold

Although ... today is lovely and mild. The ice in the harbour has retreated and melted.

Oh and those sparks ! they sure did fly. Yesterday was day 2 of les large basement clean out. I'm in love with a crazy man. A crazed man with a tool for every thing and every potential project and gumption like all get out. Sigh, swoon and sigh again. My basement over the years has been a repository for every failed piece of equipment large or small. Seems every handy man (?), contractor type or service person has left behind all of their debris, packaging, nuts and bolts, and too many pressure release valves for us to count. Not to mention the cast iron - 2 ton previous hot water boiler, 2 hot water heating tanks, 3 water pumps and an old steel fire place insert. A simple shrug of the shoulders, that casual pppffffft sound (the no big deal sound) and a handsome man with a tall moustache weilding a steel cutting hand held saw. Holy shit Batman !!

I held giant sections of old two ton cast iron water boiler with leather work gloves as the cowboy cut each big piece into smaller pieces so that he and I could remove (lift) these pieces from the basement. We're removing the giant old 2 ton boiler first. Sparks !! (you betcha) It's craziness !! Such good, wonderful, perfect craziness !! Yikes !! When he says we're cleaning out the basement and fixing things up - he means business. He's already figured out the boiler issues. Expansion tanks and resetting of the water temperature and suddenly there's an explanation for the too-numerous-to-count failed pressure release valves strewn all over the constantly wet concrete basement floor. More swooning. He's so freakin' smart he blows my mind.

Later in the day we enjoyed a long walk in the frozen hayfield with the zooming sisters followed by tea and a beer by the fire at his old farm house then back to Black Street for dinner of rice vermicelli and spring rolls (a fast favourite of ours) and our evening movie avec surround sound.

We're building our life together ... from the basement up.

everything + more

Sunday, December 27, 2009

cosmos - a favourite flower of mine from the summertime photo archives

It's the time of the year that my photography wanes. All around me has become muted and dull. Browns and dead. Whites and cold. And I love pink and red and orange.

It's mantra time again

Don't be afraid
Have courage
Speak your truth
Trust in love

I have been given everything. Everything and more ... much, much more. I'm still stupidly trying to figure out why ? How crazy is that ? Because of course in my attempts to figure out why I try to convince myself that maybe everything is not true. Doubt. Love doubt - my fatal flaw.

To love someone is something,
To be loved by someone is something,
but to be loved by the one you love
is everything


oh oh !

Saturday, December 26, 2009

the cowboy's beautiful boathouse - a view from our walk in the hayfield avec les sisters

He and I have recently, over the past week or so, come back down and out of the crazed fog of infatuated intensity that we have been living in since that first fateful dog walking date at the end of October. We've hurtled back to earth at a great speed and away from the high as can be clouds of I must breath the same air as you or I can't breath at all that we've been floating around on. And with a sudden thud or two (or three) on impact. The end of perfect and the beginning of reality. What is left when the dust finally settled is a feeling of intense love and gratitude. A love much more frightening than the overwhelmed and breathtaking love I had been feeling for the past two months. Instead a big, giant bursting kind of love and the beginning of a brand new and wonderful life which seems to have totally eclipsed any past life I might have been living. I honestly cannot remember what my life was like without him in it.

oh oh ! ... I must breath the same air as him or I feel I can't breath at all.

We're beginning to clean out our basement here at 29 Black Street today. First steps in the big home and garden restoration renovation of this old brick house.

shared menus & movies

Friday, December 25, 2009

snow covered wreath from last year - this Christmas so far is mild and no snow - hooray !

Seems every night is movie night here at 29 Black Street and with surround stereo sound. Sigh.

Christmas Eve
- cowboy
lobster (freshly cooked) chowder (made by the cowboy)
bagette & butter
layered chocolate mousse and white chocolate mousse

Movie - Revolutionary Road which we gave a resounding 2 thumbs up to - both beautiful & sad

Christmas Dinner - cowboy
roast Chicken with the cowboys famous cashew dressing
mashed potatoes with gravy
more layered chocolate mousses

Movie - A Christmas Story (taped earlier in the week) the new quintessential holiday movie.

Boxing Day - me
caesar salad I'll add bacon and thinly sliced fresh mushrooms to my salad
italian fries both recipes merci to Shutterbean
chocolate mousse truffles (an experiment in bon bonnes - recipe to follow hopefully with photos)

Movie - Part 1 Cranford (taped Masterpiece Theatre - PBS)

He really does most of the cooking. Sigh.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

my favourite house along our evening stroll - I love this little lit snowman

wishing you all the merriest of holiday seasons
with much love and gratitude for all of your love, comfort & support

xo Susan, Miss D, Piper Belle, BleetNess, Oliver & Gus

The cowboy and I had plans of making our tiny seaside village social debut last night. We were invited to a holiday open house at the busy seasonal café. The couple who own the café are dog loving creative people cut from a similar cloth and people I like and hope to know better. I was tickled and grateful to be invited. Homemade eggnog, lots and lots of people and much good cheer was on the menu. I suffer from a kind of social anxiety - though people who know me are always shocked to hear this as I almost always appear cool as a cucumber, chatty - dare I say extroverted. Madam Social Butterfly is my outward appearance. This is what happens when you are frightened of social interactions (especially those with crowds of 3 or more) from a very young age - you learn quickly how to perform like a fearless person - to act. You become very skilled at covering it up and hiding this seemingly irrational fear. Often I look back through my life at the things I've done and accomplished that have required great social courage on my part and I'm dumbfounded. I wonder who was that ? Anxiety and fear is almost always anticipatory - it's blind fear all tangled up with expectations and imagination (vivid always). If I manage to blow through that anticipation and actually go to an event or an occasion I almost always have a great time and appear to many (even myself) the life of a party. Madam Invincible magically takes over for me ... every time.

I am sorry this morning that the cowboy and I missed the party - Regret is the closest friend of this kind of anxiety.

december 09

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

hey noodle ! we're nearing the end of some kinda year

Uncertainty is the only certainty there is,
and learning how to live with insecurity is the only security.

John Allen Paulos

Oh ...
and Hey ! you know where you can go John Allen ...

holiday scenes

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a collection of barley toys from last Christmas - avec most excellent photography assistant

I was trolling around in les photo archives this early morning looking for a photo of last year's twinkling petite faux Christmas tree. A 3ft number that I purchased at Canadian Tire a few years back and a tree that is stored fully decorated, with lights strewn in the crawlspace of this old brick house. Usually this time of the year I pull it out, fluff it up and plug it in ... Voila !! but this year I'm hooked up with someone who's actually less Christmas-ey than me ... and ya know it's kind of a good thing.

I've wrapped and mailed my only two Christmas parcels (on schedule - in fact ahead of the game - a first in many years). My kitchen window, the one that faces Black Street, is ablaze* with twinkling coloured mini lights. One string, zig-zagged through the opening a la Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. I have plans to make shortbread cookies (my grandmother Blanche's recipe) which I'll decorate with blobs of vanilla butter icing and little snippets of red maraschino cherries - an essential festive touch. I decided last night that I may make chocolate mousse truffles - an experiment and a recipe of my own concocting (to follow of course with photos if and when that particular plan actually comes to fruition).

I'm satisfied with my tres sparse seasonal plans this year. Each evening I walk with Miss D and Piper Belle up and down the streets of this little village and I'm thrilled with the displays of Christmas lights that we see. I love peering into front windows, curtains all open wide, fully decorated trees of every size and shape gleaming back at us. A few houses are so beautifully decorated that I stop each night and stand for a few minutes with the girls, wishing I'd brought my camera. I just stare - taking it all in - and thinking every night ... just how beautiful theses holiday scenes are.

It's all just the perfect amount of Christmas for me.

*mild hyperbole

the ice

Monday, December 21, 2009

the miniature coyote PB standing on the grassy hill, a favourite spot and scene of the 1st date

The ice in the harbour has arrived early this year ... it usually arrives after Christmas in the new year. Thankfully the temperatures are mild once again and there's rain in the forecast for the next few days. I really hate the bitter cold. The wind so often howls in from the open water and turns our little park at the end of Black Street into a frigid feeling arctic region. Wind chill. When I walk the dogs in the evening that stretch of our walk, even wrapped tightly in down and fleece, becomes almost unbearable and I always think of mountain climbers* or crazy Antarctic explorers (a tres vivid imagination a constant companion of mine) until we make the turn, two streets down, and begin our walk away from the harbour and up the hill toward the schools.

Still ... (or maybe), always very busy here at the teak topped desk of late and I'm finally getting my design groove back on - phew ! Hey ! Look out 2010 with my handsome cowboy cohort by my side the possibilities kinda blow my mind.

* High Crimes - my current bedside book

3 gifts (to myself)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

cardinal - from Charley Harper An Illustrated Life

I bought this book last Monday while on my 2 hour shopping extravaganza in the giant mall. Actually I purchased the book across the street from the giant mall - at Chapters - sigh (a most favourite shopping, browsing destination). I've had my eye (and wallet) on this over sized, hard cover, all full colour tome for quite sometime. This book first published in 2007, originally retailed for well over 100.00, in the beginning close to 200.00 - a crazy price for this designer gal to ever consider paying for a book. It's been reissued this year and I can't tell you what the difference might be but the price has dropped to a quarter of the original hefty price and I snapped up a cellophane wrapped copy to put under my own imaginary Christmas tree.

Being an independent, tres self reliant, single for a waaaayyy long time girl and someone who has very loose-ish family ties - I'm quite used to purchasing gifts for myself and treating myself this time of year to splurgey items. This gorgeous book for 1 - Charley Harper an artist/illustrator who put the style in stylized. A book I'm confident I will pour over many, many times. 2 - a big tube of luscious 18.00 hand cream - oh you crazy girl ! and 3 my own two layer tin of Belgian chocolates which I devoured in less than three days and did not share a one bon bonne with the cowboy (and he loves chocolate) how terrible is that ?

He an I will not have anything resembling a Christmas tree and we will not be exchanging gifts. We will go to the big nearby town early next week and to my favourite grocery shopping destination La Super Store and we'll go mad, crazy grocery shopping. We'll get more Belgian chocolates (to share this time), and the fixin's for a roast chicken dinner with dressing and all the trimmings, we'll write out our menu plan for those few holiday days and make a list, check it twice and we'll cook and we'll eat' til our heart's content. We'll curl up on the sofa under a wool crazy quilt which has survived beautifully from his childhood. A heap of tired happy dogs and a* cat (Oliver) around us and we'll watch movies (avec surround sound) ... and this will be one of the best Christmases I can ever remember.

* the other two 29 Black Street chats (BleetNess & Gussie) will no doubt continue to be ensconced in their own second floor Pied à Terre, complete with toilet and kitchenette.

just an ordinary evening

Saturday, December 19, 2009

cabbage flowers

Tea for the Tillerman plays on the new second hand 70's sound system, I have always loved this song - how could you not ? The sisters Piper Belle & Bess leap and thrash and gnash in flat out crazy dog play while Miss D plays referee from her spot on the sofa and occasionally busts off to give either Bess or PB a loud, resounding time out or too rough command with her fierce top dogness then back up onto the sofa to continue enjoying her rawhide chew. Scaredy cats Bleet & Gussie are forever ensconced on the second level of this old brick house tucked away in their favourite nests or wide windowsill beds. Oliver, of course, while always trying to make new friends and/or influence people and cats with black noses from far away lands. - is smack in the thick of it all. He's still trying to suss out his new role, status and/or opportunity in this new story. He's gradually been bringing out all of his tricks. Tricks like zooming, pinging and some death defying leaping or sometimes just sitting in the wood box by the fire, his head sticking out, where he has a ringside and somewhat protected view of the night's ongoing gnashing event. Out in the kitchen the cowboy sits in the armchair having a beer keeping me company while I'm at the big kitchen island table chopping and slicing things for our dinner (truth be told he's been doing most of the dinner cooking but once or twice a week, I too, have a go at it). Cooking together and eating meals together has fast become one of our favourite chapters in this new epic and lovely romance novel we've found ourselves living in.

This is what happens when you place a cabbage on a sunny windowsill ?? instant eco-system


Friday, December 18, 2009

blue blues and cold early morning walk along the harbour's edge

If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love

Gordon Lightfoot - Song for a Winter's night

Sung here by Sarah McLachlan a favourite of mine this winter holiday season

a new nest

Thursday, December 17, 2009

For a dog - Miss Winnie Dixon painted for us with love by Ande

from Ande or Miss Chickory my friend from the mysterious lands of Georgia.

3 of 15 things

My 15 things package was absolutely bursting with love and thoughtfulness - which was not at all a surprise to me but somehow tres hard for me to receive, hard to take in. Of late there is so much goodness all around me - covering me like a thick, down filled, flannel duvet and making me feel nothing but love and comfort and gratitude - it still stuns me a little - so, so good, this new nest of goodness.

Soft - an amazing collection of feathers gathered by herself to send to her new friend in far away Nova Scotia and Green a beautiful and perfectly crafted, green patterned garland to decorate our beautiful living room.

Merci Miss Ande
xo S & les Gang

bitter, bitter cold and windchill this morning. A clear pale blue sky and off I go wrapped tightly in down and fleece avec the marching sisters.

movie night(s) & sighs

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

yesterday afternoon's walk with les sisters and the cowboy in his foggy hayfield

The cowboy's been tightening up drafty cracks and crevices in this old brick house and preparing us for winter which technically does not begin until next Monday December 21. The wood that I originally ordered for this place will now be delivered to the cowboy's house where those brand new 4 cords of fire wood will enter into the 1st stage of 7 stages of (proper) fire wood drying and the already well seasoned and dry wood that over the summer has made it to stage 7 (leisurely and in sun and wind) will be delivered here in small batches, as we need it, dans his pick up truck. Happiest sigh.

We originally planned to have a movie night once a week but since Saturday every night has been movie night. Sunday we drove an hour to pick up a fantastic second hand* sound system, you know the old fashioned gigantic speakers, tuner, amp and CD player to go with the cowboy's turntable and collection of much loved LPs. He instantly hooked it up so that when we watch movies we have super duper stereo surround sound. Shut ! Up ! His first building reno project is to build the big built in cabinet/shelving unit on the big blank wall in our beautiful living room which will hold this fantastic entertainment system (those gigantic seventies speakers, all components, movie collection, CD's, LPs and DVDs, wires and cords etc ... all hidden away magically). Much more happy sighing.

The first two nights we watched Das Boot (the directors cut and 4 hrs 53 mins long) depth charges in surround sound - be still my freakin' heart. The next night an impressionable movie from the cowboy's youth - Elvira Madigan beautifully photographed obsessive love with a soundtrack to die for. Last night an HBO movie and favourite of mine, borrowed from our little village library - Longford and tonight we may watch Babel another on my top 10 list and a movie that the cowboy hasn't seen. And two other movies in the queue for this week - my pick Paris, Texas and his pick The Bad Lieutenant

And tonight we'll have rice vermicelli with spring rolls again for dinner ... sigh, sigh, sigh.

the view from my office window this early morning - a winter wonderland

* kijjiji

in the meantime

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

5:15 pm last night in the park at the end of Black St. - steps away from our front door

Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever

Keri Russell (of Felicity fame I'm thinkin')

If I seem a little quiet it's because I'm still trying to find my bearings in this brand new and completely different life I'm suddenly living. It's all good - I know and feel that with all of my heart but it's like I've been picked up, held upside down and M. Universe is shaking me or I'm endlessly at the fair on a giant ferris wheel in a madly swinging cart that's stuck at the very top. I'm not going to tell you exactly how many years I had been a single person, but years they do go by. A single person, living a quasi contented life in an old brick house filled with love and animals and always with a big stack of dreams and hopes. But this ... this big cowboy love, it's a love and a life I could never have dreamed. I could never have possibly hoped for because it is bigger, wider, deeper, crazier than anything I could have ever conjured up. It's overwhelming much of the time.

What happened to my other life, where did it go ? So many chapters of that life I'm more than happy to say so long to See ya later Sad & Ache ! and a big ol' Bonjour Safe & Loved ... but other chapters I'm desperately trying to get back. Things are settling a tiny bit and I do have complete confidence that we'll sort this out and that I will feel, once again, like I'm walking on solid ground but I'm thinking it may be awhile yet. In the meantime I'm trying to be kind to myself.

chat, lunch, shop

Monday, December 14, 2009

elementary school yard at sunrise

Racing this morning. I'm off Christmas shopping at the gigantic mall in a nearby small city with a friend I only see occasionally. Chatting, lunching, shopping.

ice in the harbour

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the ice has arrived - this morning's sunrise walk along the harbour's edge

It's been terribly cold. This morning the sky is clear and blue, sunshine and cold. The wind finally has stopped howling. It's been howling in off the water at speeds over 50kms for two days straight making both our houses creak and groan and making the air frigid and almost unbearably cold. Wind chill. The ice has arrived early this year. Thankfully there are warmer temperatures (+ numbers, not - numbers) forecast for this coming week.

It's Sunday - Hooray ! Teak toppin' it this morning and gettin' my groove back on and a big ol' Hallelujah to that. And this afternoon perhaps a wee drive with the cowboy and the sisters in tow. Sigh a Sunday drive with my true loves.

december thrills

Saturday, December 12, 2009

the black velvet chicelet Bleet and Miss Winnie Dixon in the sunny chocolate guest room

wind, ice, cold and snow
coffee and morning chatter by the woodstove
Belgian chocolates
CBC radio 1
crazy about him
drawing 'til 3pm at the TTD
walking in golden crusty hayfields with the sisters
wrapped up well in down and fleece
tea and beer back by the fire
kissing frosty moustaches
dinner at 29 Black Street (rice vermicelli with spring rolls)
baguette chunks spread with Camembert
movie night Das Boot the directors cut - ordered from amazon
turns out we both have a thing for submarine movies
snuggled together on the sofa
a fire glowing in the fireplace
and crazed, wild, gnashing dogs (Piper Belle & Bess) wrestle and play
while Miss Dixon sleeps with her head on the cowboy's lap
a bedtime walk around this sleepy village which is a twinkle with Christmas lights