Tuesday, November 30, 2010

i love baths. maybe it comes first from loving bathtubs, the smooth curves, the claw feet, the heavy substantial iron smoothed over with porcelain. i was always drawn to them. but i didn't know i loved baths until i found my first apartment. it was the upstairs half of an old turn of the century house that never quite smelled right no matter how much i cleaned. and there wasn't really a shower. it had a hand held thing in the tub that had broken after a few weeks. so i started to take baths. and started to love them. maybe it was the only time i could escape the odd smell in the rest of the place.....i don't know, but my love of baths was born and will always be. when i lived in paris i had the tiniest closet of a bathroom with a miniscule bathtub that was basically the same area as a shower stall, but it was a bathtub. i would curl myself into this tiny little basin and be so glad for the luxury of it. any place i lived was always chosen for the tub.

and this is my favorite corner of our bedroom. my bathtub, tucked under a slight slope and surrounded by little shelves with essential oils and soaps and candles. i always dreamed of a bathtub in my bedroom, the perfect way to begin and end my day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

i slept in a 20 year old t-shirt last night. in fact i'm still wearing it as i write this. it's as soft as flannel now, worn and dreamy. this shirt is an embrace when i wear it, that makes me a little giddy and sad. reminding me of the years when university was behind me and real life was still years away. when responsibility was just a suggestion and i roamed and painted and dreamed. lisa gave me this shirt and covered it with words she'd written in block letters. not just words, but words that i loved. addresses of where i'd lived and where i would one day live. names of people i loved. names of artists i revered. names of my dogs. names of boys who i thought were men. lines of poetry.....lisa's, mine and our favorite poets. cities. and lisa's bright wit stringing names together so that several people shared one line.....bob dylan thomas hardy.
over the years the writing has faded. i have gone over the letters with a sharpie many times, so there is slight shadow behind each word. the ghost of my youthful self watching me, taking every journal and sketchbook and mixed tape and reducing it all to this shirt. my favorite thing.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

in theory, i love the grayness of november. it's monotone and indifferent and anti-climatic. a personality i embrace. i'm drawn to the subtle. but love to find the raging just beneath the surface. this year i've been too busy to find november until it's last few days.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

when the waves in the harbour are no longer slapping on the boats, making them sway and tip and lean, that is the change of season for me. they were all out this afternoon when tom & i took edgar tripping around the harbour and along the stone walls of the prison. only the coast guard and the st. lawrence ll were still afloat. when all the boats are paralyzed on their perches and bandaged in tarps or shrink wrap, with no optimistic lone brothers bobbing in the november waves, it's time for winter to begin. it takes about 6 weeks to empty the entire harbour, folding each vessel into it's winter hold. the cycle of summer is ended for now and will start finding itself again in the spring when the boats are mobile.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

empty white dreary and decrepit bathrooms. they speak to me somehow. chipped and rusty fixtures. a loneliness emanating from the sink. floating at the perfect height to lean on, be supported by. and yet repulsive. the most personal of fixtures, passing through generations. faucets that are stiff and unable to open. a green blotch of oxidized rust and a cracked mirror. such a human story.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

photo courtesy of lisa esh strohauer

i'm starting to get excited about thanksgiving. my favorite holiday. although i live in canada and feel very canadian, my american roots are strong when it comes to thanksgiving. my very earliest memories of family gatherings would be thanksgiving in philadelphia, washington d.c. or baltimore. road trips in the car. huge tables piled with food and lined with extended family. uncles watching football. and i remember acquiring my first hand-me-down barbie from a cousin at thanksgiving. so i started out swamped with the warmth and love of thanksgiving.

but there is still no holiday i embrace like i do thanksgiving. something about a mid-week holiday in november is just lovely. we always take the day off. we have dinner with my parents and watch football with a big fire in the fireplace. and i think the fact that we are celebrating in a way that few of our canadian friends and neighbors celebrate, means there is no stress. we have a small family dinner with my parents but we aren't trying to fit in all the extended family and in-laws. it's easy and simple. and i'm full of holiday bliss.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

i love to wander through houses that are ready to be tweeked back to their original beauty. we explore basements, musty and cobwebby. and kitchens that worked hard for years, feeding families and hosting holidays. the bathrooms are the most difficult for me because what others find ugly and ready to be replaced, i love. i love the pink and green tiles from the 60s. sometimes there is black tile trim that makes it even more lovely to me. it feels classic and solid and i always want it to survive. i haven't yet been forced to tear out one of those bathrooms. but i'm sure if we keep doing this, the day will come.
it's hard to take a house that has embraced a family for decades and sentence it to be torn apart. i'm very careful to try to listen to the house. make things fresh and bright but not change the entire aesthetic. i am anxious to find our next house.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

in my paper room, cutting and gluing and organizing beautiful old images is what i think i do best. don't get me wrong....i love building quilts .... feeling the cottons and being saturated in the dazzling colors and patterns. and i can spend days, weeks even, putting them together and feeling confident and proud of what i'm making, sewing and cutting and piling the patterned fabrics together. but i think when i'm with the paper the best comes out of me. the images that weave themselves onto the panels are such fine and delicate creatures that i wonder at their details like the wonder of a newborn's translucent fingernails. they come to the surface as if they have risen from the depths of an underwater cave. mysterious, gradually coming into focus. and they seem to breathe. stare at me and convince me they are not simply a flat image.

this paper work is what my paintings have progressed to. and i hope that i don't allow these creatures to be choked and flattened and buried as my painting has been. i need these paper sylphs. i think they are my destiny.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

november. rain blurred windows and edgar refusing to leave the porch. with our canopy gone, it makes the walk between houses during the rain, even rainier. edgar likes to use the canopy to do his business without getting wet during summer rains and i just love the luxury of it. but now, the leaves are gone and we are open to the sky. bare branches. no coverage. the branches are beautiful. wet bark gray silhouettes against the sky.

i sewed all day. surrounded with colorful fabrics, quilts and napkins and aprons. meagan gave me steamed milk for my tea at lunch. and of course, i watched the waltons. more of the same tomorrow. i love the routine of sewing that has happened the past few weeks. it is my grandmother's 105th birthday today. always a day i notice and remember. i think of her so often, and when i sew it seems she's with me. i miss her alot and feel so fortunate to have spent so much time with her.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

sewing all day gives my mind a little quiet. and all the intricate word images that swim in there begin to sort themselves out. i have collections in my brain, much like the collections that i gather around me everywhere. piles of words and ideas and images and details that when organized may fold into the story that winds around my bones and whispers it's fragmented visions into the clatter of the sewing machine. the story is brewing. i watch it now wondering if all the blank parts will find their fat and give me their secrets. and wonder if i'll ever find the discipline and the courage to give the words away. so as the story thickens i've been considering bringing parts of it to the blog. i don't know how, but maybe i can give it a chance here, a pound at a time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

i think it was 36 years ago that i found this beautifully bleached, smooth, almost stone-like piece of bone. we had just moved to the farm and i was exploring by making forts in the century old barns and wandering through the grassy fields. we moved in late spring so i was able to forge my friendship with the property as it came alive. i was 7 and must have already had the urge to find lovely little items that could stay with me and be part of my story. i remember recognizing that this must be a vertabra and being proud of my ability to recognize a piece of skeleton. i also loved the smoothness and the clean curves. my father thought it could have been a fox or even a wolf. for the soundtrack of my childhood was the howl of wolves in the dusk as i was falling asleep. i've never tried to find out what species this piece of bone belonged to. but i've always kept it with me. and as i grew into an adult i realized that this creature was probably very close in age to me. a piece of my mortality that i can hold in my hand.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

do you remember the feeling of sitting cross-legged on the floor figuring out the intricacies of a puzzle? concentrating and squirming and biting your lip. i love seeing children work at puzzles. they exude a positive happy confidence. puzzles are never frightening. not even the difficult ones. puzzles inspire me.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

a magnificent november saturday. and i'm exhausted. it's been a week of studio sewing. and the men in my life doing out-door chores. tom did our yard and the storm windows while my dad did the studio gardens. and i'm still trying to get used to the emptiness around me. everything is bare. only a few dead and wrinkled leaves are on any of the trees. the light is stark and strong with little to filter and soften it. and i'd love to sleep for a few hours right now. i find i take fewer photos in november than any other month. and the aesthetic is so lovely. i may need longer to get used to winter. i don't like coats. or boots.....shoes for that matter. or even socks. so. although the coziness of winter can win me over, the actual need for outerwear is inhibiting. i have ragged old coats from college that i throw on and i mostly wear crocs even in snow. but i'm planning to remedy that this year.....coats and boots and mittens and lots of walks that i enjoy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

it's edgar's birthday. every year we try to make it a nice day for him. special in a doggy kind of way. walks and treats and rubs and more treats. today edgar played in the yard while tom put on the storm windows. and my dad was at the studio cleaning the gardens.....all the glorious weeds and vines gone. but i've learned that they will grow back in the spring. i just hate the naked gardens and i think he took away more this fall than he did last year. so edgar came in from the yard to comfort me. i made christmas ornaments and napkins and a quilt.

six years of beautiful edgar.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

i think it was paris that taught me all the big lessons of my life. paris taught me how to be still in my soul and find happiness in the quiet. to find the simple vignettes that create a personal aesthetic. fueling and calming. it was in paris that i began to notice and appreciate the moments that brought a new layer of meaning and, dare i say, 'je ne sais quoi' to my frazzled youthful existence. i was content to wander unknown streets for hours upon hours. blindly allow the metro to deposit me in strange and unknown parts of the city just to explore. find churches and graves that were attached to my artistic and intellectual idols. sit and drink espresso and scribble in my journal, all without the restless american buzz i'd felt up to that point. recognizing that i didn't always need somewhere to go or someone to be with or something to do. i think i was programmed early to enjoy the internally layered and nuanced life, but paris spread it before me. we met at just the right moment, paris and i.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

it's been a wonderful morning. curled up with a cup of tea and lemon yogurt, reading proust. watching the sky fill with light, filtered through the half naked trees. floyd licking the yogurt bowl clean, but getting his extra long white whiskers covered with yogurt and watching him figure out how to clean himself. it's a little magical that an extra hour has simply materialized in my day. tom is still sleeping. i'd like to be vacuuming, to get that chore done for the day. but i'm trying to stay quiet so he'll get an extra hour of sleep. i emptied the dishwasher from last night and found enough pots and pans and bowls to fill it up again. so, dishwasher music is coming from the kitchen. edgar is galloping around the yard, pounding across the porch and into the leaf covered lawns with a little more energy than usual.

i'm putting on the kettle for one more cup of tea and a few more pages of proust until tom is awake. then i'll vacuum and fill my bath and later, spend the afternoon watching football and building quilts.

Friday, November 5, 2010

this evening i started my winter journey. since the time i was searching for my own direction in my mid-twenties i've wanted to read proust. i was intrigued with him. and i knew that the people who's lives i read about and obsessed on had also been intrigued with him. i outgrew many of those personalities, but not my distant interest in marcel proust. he is pointedly french. and his work circles in and around the parisian and provincial life. gallic. and since my life in france, so many years ago, i feel that connection profoundly. i've started reading swann's way many times. but a few weeks ago for my birthday, tom gave me the entire set of volumes.....everything together waiting for me to become part of them. the past weeks have been so busy with the house, i've wanted to settle in during the rainy evenings and start reading....but i waited until tonight. the house is listed, and i now feel free to start this new project. i'm hoping to read 25 pages a day and while the winter away with proust. i'll let you know how it goes.
À la recherche du temps perdu.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

i slept in this morning. edgar had called for me at 4 am, as he is known to do.....sometimes the quilt has been kicked off and he's cold. or one of the cats has planted herself firmly atop him and refuses to move, making him feel trapped and unable to move either. and, yes, this is a dog i'm talking about, not a child. this morning his needs were two-fold....he needed a bathroom break in the yard, and one of the pillows was not to his liking. so when i crawled back into bed, the gloomy rainy morning kept me slumbering until 8.30. a slow start this morning. the rain and heavy skies reinforced the knowledge that we are deep into fall and well on our way to winter. the clocks change this weekend. and i've heard christmas songs in the shops.

tomorrow our house is listed and i will go back to more constant and hopefully, uninterrupted, studio time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

last week i spoke of the planned murder mystery we were hosting at our house in honor of halloween. it was a hit. 13 of us dressed to the nines. carrying our roles out perfectly. we had three murders. a card shark. a baroness. an inspector. a madame. a mafioso. a houseful of mayhem. everyone was beautiful. and afterwards we lost our internet connection. i don't know why. but it's been out for days and i have felt a little stranded. we worked at the house, so it's been a busy week. we'll have it listed this week, so it's been productive. but i've lost my blog momentum ......... momentarily. it will be back, now that we're connected again.