last night naomi asked me why i'm always taking pictures. i told her that it was just something i had to do. and that although it's annoying, in the end it's a good thing. sometimes there is a moment so lovely that i find in my pictures that it makes the whole evening a new experience. i don't have the patience or desire to take a photo and turn it into something 'better' with photoshop or some editing program. to begin with, i don't know how. i can crop. and i can change to black and white. but anything beyond that is beyond me. but my camera is an extension of me. since my 16th birthday, standing at the counter of the camera shop with my dad, choosing my first nikon. an fe2, which is probably still my favorite camera. and tons of b&w film. there were cameras before that, but that was the moment 'it' started. i remember the feeling, knowing there was no going back, the journey had begun. i see us choosing that camera and i feel the rush of excitement and the weight of it, and the cold metal warming and molding into my hand like it was just this past birthday instead of 28 years ago.
you probably know how much i love my laundry to dry on the line in the sun and the wind. and today may have been the last day this year. i washed our sheets and the duvet cover and forgot they were in the washer. i was at the studio sewing away, when i realized i had clothes to go on the line. i thought it may be too late in the day, but i pinned them up anyway. the sun was strong and the wind was bright and they dried quickly. i always have to press my face into everything as i'm taking it off the line....the crisp cotton and the scent of wind from the lake is unbearably lovely. i hope we get a few more days this year for laundry to dance on my clothesline, but if this is the last one, it was gorgeous.
when the students are here, our little city has approx 145,000 people milling through it's streets and shops and restaurants and hospitals. it's not a small town in the sense that everyone knows everyone, but sometimes it seems to be. in our town i believe the six degrees of seperation theory can be cut in half. i prefer being in the studio for the greater part of my days. and walking edgar along the lake. but there is alot of shopping and errand-running necessary to keep our house flipping ventures on track. so i'm out and about more that i may want to be. (my phone just rang...at this very point, with a request to go buy more grout......so it will be another 1/2 hour before i can get sewing). i noticed yesterday that i'm never in a store that i don't see a familiar face. there is always someone i know from somewhere.....not necessarily to speak to, but simply to recognize. sometimes i'm annoyed by that, but more often, there's a nice internal smile that accompanies the recognition. i like being surrounded by familiarity.
i don't like big groups. gatherings where the intention is to mingle with a drink and meet new people. i don't like it. i guess i've never overcome my childhood shyness. although few would consider me shy......it is an immediate reaction to a large group of people i don't know. and even if i know half of them, i'm still anaesthesized with bashfulness. i rarely attend an event if i only know one or two people. so i meet people in a singular way. maybe i'm able to focus and identify what i like or dislike about them easier. but, regardless, i don't like parties. with the exception of our neighborhood gatherings.
we are filling the house with neighbors on the weekend, hosting a murder mystery evening. a 1920's speakeasy with death and mayhem. a party that i can appreciate. we are always aware of how lucky we are to have an abundance of neighbors we love. who we can always count on and enjoy. and this weekend, we'll kill each other off. happy halloween!!!!
it was a true leaf-raking day yesterday. the air was just cool enough for a sweater or a comfy down vest, with bright sun to top it off. the leaves dry and crispy and light enough to move and float with ease. but of course i wasn't one of those taking advantage of the weather and getting this chore done. but as i ran my long list of errands i kept seeing people in their yards, piling leaves. the sounds and the scents of autumn all come together in a pile of leaves. i felt both envious and guilty seeing people enjoying the day and getting their yard ready for winter. i may get to it this week......
days have been full this week. busy and fun and very full. and this morning i'll take my tea and my dog and wander with the rocks beside the lake. the light is curving in it's magnificent october way, while edgar finishes his breakfast. and i'm spending a few minutes indulging the quiet while the kettle comes to a boil. a simple slow morning. although my mind will overflow with things that must be done soon enough, the next half hour will be mine.
it was a special evening tonight. it's always a little special when i choose red lipstick. it's really the only thing i do differently that might distinguish my appearance as special at all. but tonight we saw steve earle, sitting in the second row while he picked and tuned and tapped and sang and made the most beautiful music. maybe it was the darkness, but i was smearing tears off my cheeks all night. a pure acoustic genius of a night. the mandolin was unbearably beautiful. the harmonica equally lovely. and his voice, true and raw. i've been intrigued with him since the late eighties. but the past few years, i've been more drawn to him. the perfect energy of song to play loud in the studio without it distorting into a shuffle of blurred sound. this music sustains me while i work. and tonight just made me love it more.
we walked among the grounded boats again today. i took my camera. and i felt my gypsy blood start to boil a little. the urge to make a little nest in a boat surrounded by blue. if i travel or feel the tickle to move and explore, i need to create a little capsule that surrounds me with home. it's part of the appeal. like a gypsy wagon. or a boat. the waves & the wind & the stars. and movement. it appears my great-grandfather's blood is strong in me.
after yesterday's lazy day (which turned out to be what i needed since i'm not even a little sick now) today has been busy and beautiful. the leaves are crackling underfoot. edgar & i walked along the harbour and found the ducks. in the gaggle of ducks in our harbour, there are 2 huge, white domestic ducks with bright orange beaks. they've been here a couple of years and they seem to fit in perfectly with the wild ducks.....who aren't so wild. they aren't afraid of edgar and are here all winter long, they refuse to migrate. and today the sun was bright and warm while we fed them and watched the boats coming out. it's always a little sad to see the boats on the crane, still and stiff and dry. but it's part of the autumn routine and is lovely in it's own way. it was the sort of day that autumn chores are less taxing. the sort of day that we should have put our storm windows on....but we're holding out for a few more warm sunny days of windows open wide with the smells of fall.
i was able to clean the house while watching football. and go buy some fabric.....and get an hour or so of studio time in. i took this photo walking back home across the yard from the studio where i was cutting squares for a quilt and watching the waltons. (i'm not sure if i've shared my obsession with the walton's yet). that will be a story for another time.
i am lying on the couch today trying hard not to get sick. i have that sinus-y headache and scratchy throat that lets the sickness in. tom is playing the guitar and sun is streaming through the tall living room windows. i'm reading my friend's manuscript that she shared with me. and am simply put.....having a lazy day. there is a cat curled on my feet and i'm enjoying the manuscript while tom sings. and tennis is in the background on tv (shanghai masters series). this is as close to perfect as it gets. except for the sick part....but all the nice parts might cancel out the sick part.
last night we fell asleep to the sound of the rain hitting the roof outside our window. it's been a gray couple of days. the rain and chill of autumn has crept up on us. we have finally turned on the furnace.....the chill is a little more than the fireplace will erase in the evenings. i remember as a child my little grandmother making me strings of little attached paper dolls to play with on a dull and rainy day. i still love making these little charmers from fabulous old papers and using them in my collage or journal making.
and today looks like it will be another one of those days that begs for a cup of tea, a quilt and an engaging book. my wonderful friend, mark sinnett, won the toronto book award last night for his fabulous novel, the carnivore. if you're looking for an amazing book for this rainy weekend, this is my pick. i'm planning to re-read it this weekend.
in october the air is aglow. there is a pink sparkle in the light, angled so it dances lower and appears to leave little fires wherever it touches. it seems that even without the raging colour in the trees, the glow would still bounce around october and make me gasp.
we went for a drive on the weekend and found a charming little market. we were driving along the lake and noticed a park spotted with colourful canopies and sunshades. couples and children and dogs wandering across the grass making small purchases. just a handful of stalls. but we managed to find freshly made focaccia, gluten-free organic granola, spiced date loaf, all sorts of locally grown fruit and veggies, organic and free-range meats, cheese, eggs, chutneys, jams, pesto, spanakopita, moussaka, pickles.......and i saved the best for last. dilled carrots. crunchy delicious carrots canned in dill pickle brine. we bought a jar, tasted them and went back for the last jar. i love this market.
we live in a neighborhood that i am thankful for everyday. we regularly share amazing moments with our neighbors. tonight was one of those times. krista and rudy organized a wonderful autumn celebration for canadian thanksgiving. we gathered at their place, everyone arriving laden with bowls of food and bottles of wine. 2 organic turkeys.....so the scent of roasting turkey was drifting down the street all afternoon. and a long table heavy with food. laughter and eating and wine. children being coerced to eat enough of whatever item they didn't want to eat. dogs waiting for the sloppy eaters to let something fall. and then someone suggested some fresh air before bringing out the pies. so all of us sauntered down to the lake, while the children raced. i found a pocketful of beach glass. we climbed on the rocks.
and then wandered back home to pumpkin pie, apple pie and butter tarts. and a little more wine. the children were begging for tickles. and attention of any kind, really. we found intriguing conversations about our different but similar fundamentalist christian childhoods. and then it was time to gather our bowls and walk across the street to our homes with a goodie bag of turkey and pie to bring home.
we are lucky to share our lives and our homes with the wonderful people we call neighbors. happy thanksgiving.
soooo, a long time ago it was my tenth birthday. and i thought it was pretty cool that i was turning 10 on the 10th day of the 10th month. my father pointed it out to me. but then he added that someday it would be the 10th day of the 10th month of the 10th year of the next century. and from then on this has been the birthday i've looked forward to. it didn't seem possible as a 10 year old that this day would ever come. but here it is......and there hasn't been a day quite as numerically lined up since 09-09-1809. and the next one won't be for a couple hundred years: 11-11-2211. all i really wanted was to wake up in a sun-drenched room under a new duvet and a fresh white cotton duvet cover. we've been so busy with the house renovation that our bedroom has been overlooked, with too much unfolded laundry and dust. so with a couple hours of folding and organizing, i was able to go to bed and wake up in our room exactly as i like it. that was all i wanted. (that, and the gray gothic kitchen cupboard i can't stop thinking about for my kitchen). and tom gave me a winter's worth of reading with all 6 volumes of proust's 'in search of lost time'.
it's a gorgeous day and we are off to enjoy it. my morning has been fabulous, topped off with all kinds of wonderful wishes from my facebook friends. thank you so much.
sifting through pebbles to find softened and dull, tumbled pieces of glass is my favorite way to relax. sitting at the very edge of the lake with the waves continually moving the pebbles and soaking my legs, deafened by the sound of the water and focussed like a hawk on the beach, is my perfect escape. i've carried home countless buckets of glass. glass that could be hundreds of years old. they are so lovely and each one is entirely it's own. i store them in mason jars piled in my front porch, corners of the living room, in the bookshelves, at the studio......anywhere i can stash a few jars. i used to catalog them by date, enclosing a note in the jar with the date and what the day had been like. but what i really want to do is gather the glass, and although i cataloged for years, that extra step became bothersome. i can usually sit by the edge of the lake well into october without being too cold. and the last few days have been like summer so it's perfect. but i remember gathering glass on new year's day once.....the lake must have stayed open that year. and in winter when i crave the touch of the glass and it's music, i pile glass on the dining room table or in a big basin and run my hands through it, finding special little pieces. visual and tactile.
last night hockey season started. the montreal vs toronto game. tom & i cheering for opposite outcomes. hockey is a culture of it's own in canada. it's something that unites and divides and illicits a passion that surpasses politics. most of us chose our favorite team before we can remember why. in school we collected and traded tattered hockey cards as if they were gold bars. great bargaining lessons were learned at lunchtime, huddled in a group around a certain card, angling to make it yours. we played odd, made up games throwing cards against the wall to win all the cards in the game. and i have no idea whatever happened to my treasured guy lafleur card from grade 5. i don't love hockey like tom loves hockey, but i love hockey. and i'm glad we have a winterload of it to look forward to.
we have a cat named crabapple. but we really only call her crabby. and she's senile. she's about 15 years old and has lived with us for 10. but she has lost her mind. she started out a little odd. but quirky fits perfectly in our home. the first summer she lived with us i found a pair of flipflops sitting at our back door as if someone had just stepped out of them. and soon realized they had been a gift from crabby. she would carry all kinds of pilfered items from neighboring yards and bring them to the kitchen door. for years it was an embarrassment because she stole all day, every day. hats, pairs of shoes, underwear, bathing suits, socks, towels, clothing of all types, toys, dolls, and gloves.....hundreds of gloves. gardening gloves, work gloves, winter gloves. she brought home childrens homework, drawings, crafts, even a diary. i will always regret that i didn't photograph every item. it would have been an unbelievable collection. hundreds of items. a few years ago she stopped bringing actual items and concentrated solely on garbage and newspapers and scraps of paper...,20 -30 pieces in a single day. she would walk down the sidewalk with her treasure in her mouth, screaming loudly. people throughout the neighborhood knew her and people always asked about 'the thief'.
but this summer our yard wasn't littered with garbage. and mid-summer we noticed that crabby hadn't been around for a couple of days. we went to the humane society and after several weeks we were sure she had gone away to die. and then, near the end of the summer, edgar and i were coming home from our walk and he pulled me up the street that runs directly behind our street. walking down the sidewalk toward us was a cat with a familiar bow-legged shuffle. crabby had decided to move to a group of yards and the people who occupied them. i carried her home, sobbing with relief that she was alive. but when we approached the house she growled and screamed and fought. i got her inside and as soon as she could she snuck out and was gone for a week or more......when neighbors brought her home. this little dance went on for about a month.
she's with us now, but screams and growls when we go near her......not always. sometimes she climbs into my lap, or snuggles near my head on the couch, begging for attention and love. but it will inevitably end with a growl and a hiss. but she only threatens to lash out. she doesn't ever follow through with it. she is old and confused and......senile. but i'm glad to have her safely with us again.
i love going to the drive-in. we try to go once during the summer. there's a drive-in near our cottage in the middle of fields that are full of deer and skies with floating hawks. and a long concrete block concession stand where they sell nachos, popcorn, cotton candy and mosquito coils. it never matters what movie is playing.....the fun is packing the truck with chairs and quilts and a contraband cooler. and watching the sky grow dark around the big old out of place rickety screen. the images seem bigger and more magical out in the open than they do in a packed theatre in the city. i had never been to a drive-in until a few years ago. but when i was a child i remember driving past drive-ins and seeing the huge faces rising up out of nowhere. they were like paintings. portraits that moved, but silently. the image of a face, either elizabeth taylor or natalie wood.....i'm not sure which, floating at an angle above a road is sealed in my memory.
so, i'm thinking, october at the drive-in would be spectacular. a few more blankets and a thermos instead of a cooler.....but i'm off to hunt down a drive-in that is still open for this weekend.
this is my bag. the bag i've lugged around for 23 years. it has been with me, full of books and cameras and journals......it's my life line. i still have little things tucked in the zippered pockets from places we've been. sugar cube paper from paris. a tiny yugoslavian flag from when it was still yugoslavia. a long piece of my own hair wrapped in colored thread and beads from a week at the shore. there's a little wrapped chocolate from cafe de flore where i would go to channel simone de beauvoir. but it's age is beginning to become an issue. the straps are beginning to tear at the seams and some of the leather is cracking and tearing as well. i'm afraid to carry my camera and books in it now, they're just too heavy. i've been being careful with it for a while but i'm happiest when i have the old torn and cracked bag slung over my shoulder heading out for a little adventure.
although we are just a few days into october, the nights are beginning to feel a little wintry. so we've been building lovely little fires in our living room fireplace. the cats sprawl in front and edgar does his best to get his favorite spot on the sofa. our neighborhood soaks up the sweet musky crabapple wood smoke that crawls out the chimney and i don't know if i prefer being inside with the warmth of the flames or out in the crisp smoky fall air. the fire makes even a mundane evening watching football or our favorite hbo shows feel a bit more special. i'm not ready for the full onslaught of winter but i think i can welcome the coziness of fall.
every day should have a moment that simply makes you glad to be alive. grand events and exciting happenings don't count. just a moment that makes you pause and breathe and smile. it's still early and i hope to have a few today. walking among the unused limestone buildings this morning by the lake, seeing the old paned windows trapped with dust and spiderwebs and the light and shadows spread onto the cracked plaster walls....that was my moment. i wonder why i don't go there everyday. and then edgar stopping his sniffing and walking back to me to press against me and get a little neck rub before he went back to exploring. that was another one. and now i'll head to the studio and make journals and quilts with no expectations and nothing to lose because my day is already great.
the other night our friend and neighbor launched her book the body at the tower. it was a lovely evening at our local,independant bookstore. i am often loathe to leave my little portsmouth village compound in the evening after a long day of running errands and creative decisions in the studio. i prefer to relax with tom in our own little world. but i actually changed out of my thread covered clothes (i'm sure there were still a few threads here and there, but i did my best), slapped on some lipstick and headed off. ying had asked me to bring my camera....which was genius on her part, because if i have permission to be the annoying photographer, i'm thrilled to be at an event. and i enjoyed myself completely. i saw old friends, the regular portsmouth village crew, met new people and even found a fabulous book i'd forgotten i wanted. there were wonderful photos and moments and a warm sense of community. i'm so glad i went.....thanks ying.
i feel like quilts are alive. they reflect all the little joys that make life special. they emanate love and warmth. the quilts i make blend a grandmother's ideals with a fresh youthful flair. there is a nostalgia for seasons past combined with hopefulness for a bright full future. you can find me online at www.chasinglightningbugs.com