Friday, April 29, 2011

today started early for me. i set my alarm for 3.01 but edgar with his uncanny ability to wake me early, started barking at 2.56. i thought i'd be too tired to really enjoy since i didn't get to bed until after midnight. but a few minutes going through the channels and getting my little camp set up in the living room set the mood for the morning. i made a little breakfast of tea, yogurt and strawberries and settled in with my camera for the morning. initially my exuberance for this event was based on my childhood memories of the fairytale that was diana and charles' wedding. i was 14 and it was the most amazing thing i'd ever seen. my mother, my grandmother and i had to get up at 3 and drive a half hour into town from our house in the country where my parents refused to have a tv. we were invited to an elderly ladies house to watch the wedding. we had breakfast in her tiny living room with her cats and collectibles. and it was magnificent. i wanted to have the same sort of cozy, sleepy morning 30 years later watching diana's son marry the woman he had given her ring to. i was always fond of diana, but when she died on the same weekend as my grandmother and i watched her boys become orphans, i grew more attached. and so at the first sight of her boys this morning, i wept. sobbed really.
the bride was beautiful and the dress was spectacular. and i sat on my couch, snuggled under a quilt with edgar, taking photos of the tv. over 300 photos. it's how i enjoy something. taking photos. and the magic of the morning has given me a little of the joy and energy that had been draining the past couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

the lake churned and shook and rolled like the ocean today. the winds were wild, but it was on the water that it was so clearly more than simply windy. the movement changed the color of the lake. seething from far below the surface. we walked along the edge feeling the spray. energized and excited by it. i was busy with my camera. and looking through the photos just now, it was hard to choose one to post here. each one is minutely different and yet each one shows a different piece of this foaming beastly lake that is so hard to recognize in this form. my placid companion in disguise.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

huckleberry finn was on my mind all day. it was a day of porch painting. not exactly a fence, but a porch is close. we have had such rain in the past weeks that the outdoor painting that needed to be done at the house in amherstview couldn't get done. it's been somewhat embarrassing that the house is so perfectly appointed inside, without that being reflected on the exterior. there was very little curb appeal, simply because we couldn't paint in the rain. so, although there were thunder storms in the forecast, we awoke to a lovely sunny warm day. after walking edgar, and without taking time to do anything but pin my crazy hair away from my face and donning my painting shirt, i headed out to the house and started what turned out to be 8 hours of painting. the rains never came so i kept painting. the porch is completed, while the carport still needs a little more time. and now the thunderstorm warnings have changed to a tornado watch. i hope we are spared the tornado and storms and have some more painting weather tomorrow.

exactly the morning wander through the harbor and around the massive stone prison walls and the open green park spaces and the historic, story laden century buildings and houses that i've waited all this long winter and eternally wet spring to have. the sun is bouncing around. the mist is being burned off by the sun. the skies are blue with fabulous layers of clouds. i am energetic. and although i'd promised myself a day in the cloth (that's quilting i'm speaking of), real estate duties call and i must head out to the house and get some painting done while i can. edgar and i enjoyed our morning. and we will have another walk after the first coat of paint is on.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

i'm wrapped up in a quilt. the whole family is actually. tom has gone to bed where a quilt is laid across the bed, giving the perfect weight to the duvet, winter and summer. edgar and stella are curled up together on the couch with a quilt thrown over them to help them sleep through the night. and i'm sitting with the computer on my lap under a quilt tucked around my feet and pulled up to my chin. i didn't find my way home until after 10 tonight and although i'd rather be reading right now, i only had the brain power to stare at the computer screen while i snacked on grape tomatoes and tzatziki. i'm looking forward to a full day in the studio tomorrow, making new quilts to add to the shop for mother's day. we've been working so steadily at the house that i'll need to build my sewing momentum again. but i'm eager to start compiling little colorful squares, layering them in just the right order to patch together into a quilt top. each one is always a bit of a surprise as they take shape from piles of squares, to a top, then adding the back and then finally the edge so it's fully dimensional. a surprise, yes. but also, each one is consistently warm and fresh and smiling.

Monday, April 25, 2011

our spring continues to haunt us with rain. it' s almost may and i have had only one line of laundry dry. we still have fires in the fireplace and the raking hasn't been done. the weather is in charge. there is so much painting to be done at the house we're selling. but the rain simply won't allow it. i usually love the melancholy of a rainy day. even a rainy week. but it has stayed too long now. the feeling of being drenched in a cave of creativity has passed. and we need the sunny side of spring now. the warm and misty spring mornings. walking early in the mornings along the lake. these days will find us soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

sunday morning in silence. although there were bells about an hour ago. it may be that it's easter, but there are so often bells, maybe it's every sunday. i have a little fire going to chase the chill from the air. i'm drinking my tea cooled with milk and sweetened with a touch of sugar. the orchid that my parents placed in my care while they are gone has burst one of it's buds into a flower. the sun seems to be around today so i'll hang laundry on the line. and i have boiled my biggest mason jar in preparation for spring and the gallons of iced tea it's about to hold. edgar is waiting for his breakfast, but in a leisurely sunday way rather than the eager lets get going weekly way. i'll get him his food. it's been a wonderful morning.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

my mind is fleeting and rapid lately. i have glimpses of little ideas and moments of brilliance that i plan to share here, but they disappear. but the visuals that flood me constantly are stable. solid. always there. the trees. when the branches are bare with black tendrils against gray or blue skies, the beauty of it fills me. i dread the silhouettes changing to soft leafiness. so these last few weeks of branches means i'm taking endless photos. and yet, when the neon green stubble starts appearing, i'll love that as hard as the bare branches. and when we have the heavy cool shiver of leaves shading our windows and guarding our yard, i'll despair at losing that as well. i love every phase.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

tonight we are sore. exhausted, flopped on the couch with edgar watching hockey. this is the third house we have brought back from despair. three houses in exactly a year. this afternoon the sign went on the lawn. it's like we can finally take a deep breath although we will still be working at the house everyday until the open house on sunday. there is a mountain of small and less obvious jobs still waiting to be done. yet it is with a wonderful sense of satisfaction that we are winding up this job. it's great being responsible for a house feeling love again. when we first visited this house, months before we started offering on it, there was no love. more like disdain. but now the house is open and bright and airy and sparkling clean. i found this fabulous tone on tone rug that makes my favorite rona chairs even more amazing. i love that this photo looks like it's b&w, but in fact it's a color photo.
i'm a little too tired to write anything coherent tonight. but we are so close to the end of this one.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

driving home today from working on the house, our little world was spinning in this fabulous light. my camera was sitting on the seat beside me, so i grabbed it and started shooting. some of my favorite photos are taken while i'm driving. i think it's because i have to give up control entirely. i am concentrating on the road, and the other cars. i'm not even taking the pictures. it's really just the camera. i decide after the fact which ones i like. while i'm shooting i don't even look where i'm shooting or know what i'm getting. i have to just hope for the best. there is always a different sort of freshness about these photos. they are in charge. and i love them for it.
tom is watching hockey. i sort of am. edgar is snoring on the couch beside me. i have laundry to do while tom does the garbage. this weekend has worn me out!

Friday, April 15, 2011

my mother's sister died last night. i'm not sure i believe it yet. my aunt maretta. i loved her quirky ways. visiting her when i was a child was odd and wonderful. her living room walls covered from floor to ceiling with elvis album covers. her home and her kids and her meals and life was so different from ours. they always had cans of pop and candy. it was all so unusual and exciting for me. she took me to hollywood. hollywood in 1974. seedy and glittery all at once. i was almost 8 and have never needed to return. it was the perfect visit. i saw it as i was meant to see it. tortured and tarnished with a touch of the glory days remaining. i think maybe maretta loved it best that way as well. she was obsessed with elvis and marilyn. in a whimsical off-beat way, they were as beloved to her as her family. it was irreverant and erratic and i loved her for it. her visits to canada were marvelous too. she would come in the heat of the summer to avoid any cool weather. and we would look for marilyn books from canada that she may not be able to get in southern california. she loved to make unseemly comments and laugh and laugh when my grandmother (her mother) would gasp. she would call me 'nettey nettey nettey' with a sarcastic lilt to her voice.....think 'marsha marsha marsha'. she was funny and wonderfully unconventional.
her illness was brief and her death unexpected. but i believe it would have worked into her plan to slip away the way she did. i will miss you, maretta maretta maretta.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

i just walked edgar through the harbor with my camera. it's hard to juggle my big lens and my big dog and the vista of lake and prison and limestone. there are so many photos i want to take. always there. after living here for 15 years, there are still limitless photos waiting for me everytime i go out. but i feel terrible if i go out for a walk without edgar. he loves walking through the neighborhood as much as i do. or more. so my photos get slipped in when i'm being pulled through the village behind a laughing panting 180 pound great dane. this one was from an hour ago.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

this little structure pulls me to it like a motherless child. i am a spiral of emotion and fullness when i see it's loveliness with gaping holes and wood covered windows. i can't drive past. the attraction is like an untold story from a life i didn't know i lived. and it's settled deep in me refusing to let me deny it, but never letting me know exactly what it is i'll never know. so i keep being drawn to houses that are partly strong and solid and partly rotten and crumbling. there is the blush of delight, the bubble of joy, the smile spread across it's broken front like a handful of dandelions clutched and drooping in the grimy fingers of a happy child. i want to lean against the stone. i want to dream in it's shadow. but i don't want to change a thing. i love it's story. i don't want a newly primped and prettily painted story. this is the perfect distinction between pretty and beautiful. she is already beautiful, my lovely little piece of yesterday. but she is not pretty. and doesn't need to be, her beauty surpasses it. clean and smooth and fresh and shiny would polish away her serene and effortless imperfect joy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

do you feel the newness in the air? around our house things are feeling brighter and springier. and easier. chores are simpler. throwing together a fast dinner when we've been working all day happens faster and it's all thanks to the warmer air and sunshine. i still have the mountains of laundry that have been haunting me the past couple weeks. but i'm hoping to get them washed and on the line today. or tomorrow. my parents are coming tonight to have dinner and a visit before they head off on their 2 month 'avoid the pollens' tour of the american southeast, visiting relatives and finding little places to fall in love with. i'll be missing my dad's birthday so we'll try to make it a little celebration for that as well. tom just brought me coffee while i'm writing. and as soon as i'm finished my coffee and my blog, edgar and i are going out to tour around the harbor. enjoy the spring. and the extra energy it gives for all the extra aspirations that spiral through the air.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

another personal rite of the launch of summer is finding a hat. yesterday on our little springtime roadtrip we headed to gananoque partly because i hadn't had a chance to visit the willow store there. we saw the beautiful celery green sign and the window brightly spotted with hats, from across the street and headed directly there. what a lovely little shop. i loved seeing my quilts and notebooks mingling with hats and shoes and paintings and little creatures and baby items and beautiful sterling jewelry. but what really caught my eye was the wonderful sprinkling of perfect vintage items adding color and energy to the shop. a couple shelves of dishes in a glass fronted cabinet in the franciscan desert rose pattern that i have loved since i was gathering my first collection of dishes and tableware from yard sales and thrift shops. i haven't seen them in years. i was tempted, but instead i started trying on hats. for it was the launch of spring, afterall. i found a great pinstriped newsboy cap that will perfectly forgive my crazy hair days, which are common.
after a lovely time browsing and buying and reminiscing, we left willow..... i was happily sporting my new hat and tom was hungry. so off to dairy queen for tom's burger and my raspberry truffle blizzard. we both shared our treats with edgar. a lovely day. a lovely weekend.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

this day magically appears every year. one unnamed morning the sun breaks through the cold and gray and announces that it's time to be outside. neighbors emerge with the scrape of rakes and brushing of brooms, voices with a different lilt to them, jackets tied around the waist. it's a certain day....we don't know it's coming until it's here. today is that day. but tom & i always celebrate this day a little differently. we should be raking and cleaning edgar's poop from the triple sized yard he commands. but that can wait for another day...believe me, it will still be there another day. but this day always pulls us out on the road. we tried to work today, even headed out to work on the house that we are almost ready to put on the market, but we couldn't do it. we came home, picked up edgar and my camera, opened the windows, cranked the tunes and drove into the sun towards gananoque.
my vision is more complete behind my camera. i can sort through all the extra stuff, and concentrate on what i really want to see. so tom and edgar patiently indulge me as i pull off the road every little while to take photos. this bowling alley is almost visually perfect. a mecca of small town life in a simpler time. i feel calmer when i see it.

today we kept driving along the river to rockport, stopping to collect images along the way. this is how we begin every summer. or spring. but to begin spring is ultimately to begin summer in my mind. every year we wander into the country, along a lake or river or get lost on some desolate dirt road. and although the feeling of summer is in the air, the trees are still bare and the vision is endless.

when i was small my mother and i would take me on similar pilgrimages to gananoque. not just in spring, but every month or two. we would spend hours hunting through books and countless treasures at 'beaver hall' antiques. she would chat with the owners and they would show her all their favorite new finds. and after they trusted that i wasn't going to lurch through their multi-leveled and precarious shop in a childish carefree way, i would be free to explore. i would unearth fascinating discoveries in the dark musty section piled to the ceiling with books. but it went so far beyond the book treasures. the bounty was limitless and the endless rooms of intricately stacked loot definitely shaped my personal aesthetic.

today, for the first time in 20 years or more, i was back in the space. except now it's an equally extraordinary little coffee shop known as the 'socialist pig'. inviting and fresh and offered a perfect cafe au lait for the drive home. tom and edgar were waiting in the car, but i wanted to sit at the massive central table strewn with newspapers and sip leisurely through my cafe au lait, soaking in the familiar, yet changed rooms.
and in the lovely dark alley-like space that was once the mountain of books from my childhood, is an adjacent boutique with eclectic clothing and accessories. and despite the aroma of coffee and the lively new energy, i could still smell the piles of musty books from my childhood and hear the distinct creak of the wide worn floors.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

i love subway tile. it is a constant elegant and timeless look. and with every house we do, i'm amazed how the simple white tile takes it to gasp-worthy in a single day. today at our latest house, we finished the kitchen backsplash. tom had tiled it yesterday and this afternoon, it's full beauty emerged when we grouted it....yep, i helped. i'm still digging grout from my cuticles and fingernails. i had to fight for this one. there was an existing backsplash......tiny glass tile that they told me was almost impossible to remove. which meant if i wanted it gone, i had to do it myself. so i hammered and chiseled it away, or most of it to prove it was possible, and they finished it off. and now, my tenacity has paid off with another graceful and pleasing kitchen in shades of gray and white. so lovely!
we are at that wonderfully satisfying stage when the work is mostly finished and it's down to the finishing touches. everything needs to be cleaned and polished.....the floors and windows, shelves and sinks. soon we'll be moving in furniture for the living room, dining room and bedrooms. and colorful bowls and cookbooks for the kitchen. the light fixtures need to be hung. a few paint touch-ups. this is where tom and i are a magic little team. we'll spend the next week or so cleaning and doing little jobs. oh, but he does still have the basement floor to lay. my dad is helping him with that tomorrow and thursday. and then on the weekend we'll rush around making it beautiful.
the gray is flat and unending. the rain has been constant. but late last night edgar and i were walking through the puddle-y streets. he is sore and unsettled in this weather. so at 1 a.m. when he couldn't get comfortable, i tied a skirt on and pulled my big parka around me to keep out the damp air and pouring rain and we went walking. the fog was thick and the sky had a pink wash on the edges of it. there was deep silence to highlight the regular sounds that i rarely notice. the wind slapping the neighbors flag so it sounded like a slamming door. the lake moaning. the rain bouncing off the hood of my parka. the water rushing into storm drains along the street. the houses dark and tall and stoic with only 2 or 3 windows awake. and as we kicked through the rain, i felt the blanket of sadness tighten into the night. i had heard earlier in the evening of my friends family tragedy and i was filled with the sinking sorrow of it. we walked in our own little fog, edgar and i, the walls of the prison and the waves of the lake our companions.
a rain soaked april night that has rolled into another rainy gray morning.

Monday, April 4, 2011

i love mornings. usually edgar gets me up pretty early and i have a lovely chunk of quiet time before the house starts humming with the day. the quiet time mostly consists of the computer and breakfast. sometimes coffee. sometimes tea. sometimes orange juice. i've been known to have all three. this morning i had dessert after my cereal.....a couple girl guide cookies. i know i know....we don't usually have overt junk food in the house, but naomi is selling them for brownies. and they are so delicious!!!
but then the kitchen pulls me into it's vortex....feeding edgar and the cats. putting away the clean dishes that washed overnight. sweeping the floor. listening to cbc. there is a kitchen energy that exists when the house is working the way i like it. the work of the kitchen feels cheerful and bright when the energy is right. chores without the heaviness of obligation. and that's the way i'm finding it these days.
i must force myself off to run mundane errands.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

i have had the luxury of working in the paper room most of the week. my paper room sits high in the trees on the second floor of my studio. the side garden with the horse-shoe pits waiting for summer, is directly below with the sparkling lake just beyond. it feels like a treehouse, but also like a ship, with the wind turbulent and boisterous as it writhes around my little room. i curl into the big chair beside the window and revel in the towers of old paper threatening to topple all around me. there are papers that i recognize from 25 years ago that i'll never let myself use, but i love seeing surface in the tangle of the familiar. cigar boxes and drawers and folders and shelves and tables and tins, all spilling over with paper. my paper room has a delightful sloped ceiling that tucks me in it's fold as i sit on the floor sifting through maps and dictionaries and instruction booklets and old currency and collections of letters. the beautiful wide hemlock floorboards entirely disappear beneath what most would consider a horrible mess. books and torn pages and baskets like little mountains sprouting from every bare spot in the room.
but this is where i can lose myself, immersed in my work with no distractions, where my mind can distill all it's questions and ideas into journals and collage that i love.