Saturday, December 31, 2011

the dishes are washing. edgar is fed. we are fed....we had a lovely cabernet-franc jelly on our sprouted grain toast to begin new years eve in style. the fire in the library has a couple of cats clustered around it and i'm feeling nostalgic. i don't like sudden change. i love gradual comfortable shifts. but knowing that in 12 hours i will have no choice but to write a new and unfamiliar year every time i write the gives me a little start of panic. at the end of every year i obsess about growing accustomed to a new year. i wonder how it will sit in my belly. how it will feel on my tongue. and every year it settles in naturally as i'm sure this one will as well. and to be honest, i was never thrilled with the lopsided aesthetic of 2o11. especially after my love affair with 2o1o....a perfectly balanced year that included my 1o.1o.1o birthday which made my libra sensibilities soar in delight. and moving on to 2o12, i just need to let it warm up slowly and off we'll go. i hope it is prosperous and safe and healthy year for all.....

Friday, December 30, 2011

the warmth of a bowl of tea in my hands. the rain freezing as it falls. both fires in the house burning. the library dimly lit. the living room full of us. warm and sleepy. edgar stretched on the sofa, filling it completely with his fine long legs and his snores. stella fast asleep on my legs. tom smiling with his headset on listening to a live phish show. the year is coming to a close. i can feel the slow drizzle of time as it slips away. and in compensation, i feel plans gliding into place as the luxury of time opens up before me. my dreams are filled with ideas and i feel a new dominant calm.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

the sun filtered through cold hitting my windows without leaves interfering. it's strong and true and makes cleaning satisfying and frustrating. i love the smell of clean wood. and the bleachy scent of the kitchen floor. the dishwasher humming along with sarah harmer belting out from my lovely bose ipod dock that sits on the kitchen island. a little fire in the dining room stove. and a cat on a folded quilt soaking in the heat from the fire and the light from the sun. sleep comes easily on days like this. a busy morning of accomplishment followed by a lazy afternoon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

there is something about the last week of the year. it's always a special week for me. this year i am relaxed and motivated, determined to get my house organized like it once was before i spent every second in the studio. i'm staying away from the studio this week and putting all my energy into our house. i'm anxious to create the warmth of a gathering space in our kitchen again. the comfort and dreaminess of a kitchen is a special thing. and my kitchen has lost that lately. and the 'blue room' has become that room that collects everything we don't have a spot for. and there's been alot of that over the past few years. i'll be moving things around, donating and discarding and scrubbing and getting my house back.

Monday, December 26, 2011

yesterday was the most lovely day with both our families. in the morning we headed to my parents in the country, opened gifts and had a wonderful vegetarian christmas dinner, before coming back into town for more gifts and a second dinner (with turkey this time)with tom's family and little 6 week old baby luca. we came home after midnight marveling at how fortunate we are to have such amazing families.
but really, our christmas was this morning. boxing day is always our christmas with flynn and jee. we usually go to their place and have a lovely visit, opening gifts and sharing in all the kid excitement. but this morning sheila had an appointment and norm had the flu, so the plans changed. she dropped the boys off with us, complete with a laundry basket full of christmas gifts. flynn lugged in his electric guitar and amp that santa brought him. and the fun began. flynn played christmas songs. and rock and roll songs. and the muppets 'rainbow connection'. tom played too and jee grabbed a drum and started playing 'rumpa pum pum'.
they had recorded a book for us....'charlie brown's christmas' for tom and me. and 'twas the night before christmas' for my parents. of course i was teary-eyed. and they were as excited when we opened our presents as when they opened theirs. flynn has become so wise and adult-like that it was wonderful to see his face explode in childish thrill at the lego pod-racer. and jee, the little actor, wore his super-hero cape and knight cape with great aplomb.
but when they all settled around the fire to watch tom's new star wars blu-ray, specifically the pod race scene from the phantom menace....for some reason, that was my favorite moment. so familiar and soft and relaxed....flynn wrapped up in edgar like he always ends up being. and jee climbing on tom's lap, making sure we all knew that he knew all about annikin eventually becoming darth vader. these boys that i love so desperately seem to always fall back on watching star wars in some form...their very happiest times together. and they let me share it with them.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

tom has always wanted a la-z-boy. and i have never wanted one. ever. we have a leather armchair and ottoman that has grown perfectly aged and i always thought it was comfortable and beautiful and perfect. but this year tom began talking about a la-z-boy again. in earnest. and so the negotiations began. i wanted to not hate it. i hoped i would like it. but i had to not hate it. and it needed to be absolutely completely comfortable for compromising on that one. so we started looking. it would be his christmas gift. i had in mind a leather armchair similar to the one we have that had the hidden 'benefit' of being a recliner. we tried several, and although i would have 'not hated' several of them, tom didn't find them super comfortable. and then we found this oak, craftsman styled chair. i didn't love it and didn't hate it. but i did like it. tom loved it. it was definitely the most comfortable for him. so we ordered it. and although they had given us a delivery time of january, it arrived yesterday morning and sits in it's spot like it's always been a part of our home. now i love it. and tom loves it even more. my theory of a natural flow of choosing pieces that work for the individuals in the home rather than the decor of the home has worked once again. nothing in our home is of a particular style or color scheme. but it all surrounds us with love and makes a beautiful home.
merry merry christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

what a day! i woke up sore and tired and overwhelmed with exhaustion. but i still had work in the studio. and i also had a shift to work at the bookstore. i wasn't sure how i could do it all. but as usually happens, i pushed through and the kinks started to work out. i have spent the last months kickin' it in the studio, but entirely neglecting my house. i had hoped to get some time cleaning and christmasizing our happy little house, but i just couldn't get to it before it was time to leave for the bookstore.
however, the most beautiful thing happened when i arrived at the bookstore. christmas was waiting for me in the secret santa box. the most beautiful centerpiece of evergreens and pears, candles and even a precious little bird. i couldn't believe it was for me. amanda works on cash with me. we don't have much time overlapping our shifts, but enough to have short visits and learn little things about each other. she must have learned that i love beautiful things, because she chose this magnificent gift for me. i brought home christmas tonight. thank you lovely amanda!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

there is a new sweetness blooming from the studio. since tracy and trisha have started working with me in the space, it has transformed. a wonderful energy radiates and the gentle soothing scent of beeswax swings in the air. and i'm falling for it hard. i feel myself thinking about beeswax when i have other matters that should be filling my mind. the scent, the hue, the fascinating varied ways it can be used. tracy's encaustic pieces, made from layers of melted and pigmented wax on salvaged boards or panels, are gripping and subtle and infused with the scent of honey. this owl is just one example of her work. tracy gets her wax locally, from a man who is passionate about the goodness in the wax. and he transforms the beeswax he obtains from a local beekeeper into candles that i fell instantly in love with. tracy and her friend laurie were selling the candles from laurie's home, offering them at a great price as wonderful gifts. i spent every dollar in my wallet on candles at the candle party, and when i got home and started imaging how i was going to wrap them and give them as gifts to my friends, i felt i should have them in the shop for others to give as well. so i gave a few away, burned one and put the rest in the shop.
i learned that they are made by a man who has recently come to canada from tibet. and he has a beautiful soul. there is apparently a series of waiting periods in the process of making these candles. and he takes this time as a meditative prayer time, with the intention of infusing the candles in goodness. you can breathe the goodness in the candles. and they send a fresh clean healing energy into the air as they burn.
so we feel fortunate to have tracy's melting wax permeating our space. and the lovely images that come from it. and the candles. and who knows what will come in the new year (the endless possibilities in my collage work won't stop niggling at me)
come to the our last minute studio open house/sale tomorrow, wednesday december 21st from 3 until 8. at 55 mowat avenue, steps from the lake, in beautiful portsmouth village. come breathe a little beeswax.

Monday, December 19, 2011

the fine detail of a life can so easily get overlooked for the larger drama. but the tiny stories sometimes intrigue me more than the great ones. the tales of woe and wonder are expected to make you gasp and beg for more details. but a little story that soothes and makes me dream myself into it, i like it. like the little group of four geese who just flew past my window and made my heart leap a little. they made my groggy morning with their silent glide past my window. and now the morning sky has changed from a monotonous still gray to a vibrant pink and blue collection of thick clouds lit from behind, moving quickly with the wind. and then as i watch, the shapes flatten, changing clouds to sky. so the separation is removed and i just see a flat glow of pink suede. morning stillness and the luxury of noticing.....
today i'll prepare totebags and napkins for our wednesday afternoon/evening sale. swing by and finish your list with a few last minute gifts and enjoy the verve that is our little studio. wednesday the 21st from 3 until 8.....we will be there to welcome you at 55 mowat avenue in portsmouth village.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

waking up far too early. the night silences echoing around the room. i finally came downstairs and stared at the tv for a couple hours. and now i'm almost ready to go back to bed. i'm yawning which is both good and a little annoying. maybe an hour of sleep will find me before i need to get ready to head to the bookstore to work 5 hours, finish my shopping and hopefully have energy left to come home and sew late into the night.
this week on wednesday the 21st we are opening the studio for a last minute event from 3 until 8. come by after work and pick up amazing gifts for the special people in your life. 55 mowat avenue in beautiful portsmouth village!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

morning has come with the slightest layer of snow on the rooftops. the dissected view of my lavender tree and the heavy gray morning clouds pull me into my little corner on the couch that i love so. edgar brought me downstairs early this morning and i've been puttering. it's a cold morning. the kitchen floor is icy on my bare feet.....sometimes slippers are a good thing. the cats are beginning to stretch and preen. tom brought home fudge from his mother's the other day and i just had an early morning taste. it's wonderful with coffee. edgar has had his tour around the yard and is ready for some breakfast. and ellsworth decided the call of freedom is tempered by the shivery air. the day is started with a chilly twist.

Friday, December 16, 2011

edgar is sleeping stretched on the couch. the tree is lit and reflecting in the window. we are home from the neighbors, after watching 'national lampoon's christmas vacation', in front of the fire with hot chocolate and bailey's, brie cheese and triscuits and wonderful warm company. a beautiful conclusion to a difficult week.
i spent this week trying to get used to a new sewing machine. a frustrating and stressful proposition. a machine that was supposed to make life in the studio smoother and simpler but instead introduced a level of frustration more intense than i've felt in years.
it's an industrial machine that insists on huge needles and thread that feels like rope, something i wasn't told when i ordered it. it's not even sort of the right machine for what i do. the plan had been to get a heavy duty machine for my quilts and the quilted things i make that can get quite bulky. and this was the machine that was erroneously recommended by the man who services my current machine. i feel like i've been hoodwinked. it has been a week and i've been unable to take a single stitch. i've wasted so much time trying to sort this all out, being reduced to tears too many times to admit. and all during the time i'm struggling to keep up with all the studio demands to begin with. i quickly realized quilts were out of the question with this ogre. but even when i'd wrapped my head around the idea that this would be good to have when i wanted to make totes or even books, to sew through leather or heavy bookboard or canvas, i still was unable to make it work. and when i took it back for the 2nd time and the dealer had the same trouble, i was torn between feeling vindicated and wishing it had been something simple that i'd overlooked, just to save the time and be back in the studio. so the new machine that my wonderful supportive parents bought me as a christmas gift sits staring hatefully at me in the studio creating tension and angry energy. and yet, my gut tells me that i should keep it even if it is driving me to distraction. i'm not sure why yet, but i feel it has a spot in the studio. maybe something i will make in the future needs this machine. it hasn't been easy keeping tantrums in check this week, anger i never feel, bubbling quickly and violently to the surface, forcing me to engage all the self-control i can find. it was a good thing to employ those skills again.
so, i will stop complaining and be thankful i am able to do what i love and promise this monstrous new machine that i will one day grow to admire it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

ok, so it's about a boy. this one regret. my paris regret. and when i search my memories to find a companion for it, i can't find one. i've made mistakes. lots and lots of not great decisions. but only one true regret. (tom says i should regret writing yesterday's blog and making you all curious about the regret.....he makes me giggle).
so in my mid-20s, paris was my home. for 5 or 6 years, when i wasn't there i was making plans to be there. i walked away from the biggest love i'd known or would ever know (until tom) to pursue her call. paris was a multi-layered lover. yet i still kept coming back to my michigan boy. i couldn't stay faithful to either one of them. i needed them both. and when i fell into a relationship of convenience in paris it grew ever more complicated. a man who was friends with my friends and who wooed me with his flawless parisienne french. this affair lasted a couple of years, complete with an engagement. but the truest part of me couldn't let go of the real love. and it made me a person i cringe to think of now, indecisive and whimpery at times. but i can't consider that my regret. my regret was simply this.....the last time i was in paris, 16 years ago. i was there for a month, wandering and photographing and seeing and thinking. sharing paris, absorbing her, and without knowing it, saying goodbye. i stood in one of the phone booths on the street talking to michigan, like i did so many days, with her blue april skies and the sounds and smells of her streets surrounding me. and he told me he had made arrangements to come for 5 days to be with me in paris. and i refused him. i told him not to come. that i didn't want him to come, although i did so very much. i didn't know how to reconcile all of the confusing emotions so i buried them and crushed him. that is my regret. and as a penance i have never returned. there were so many times the opportunity was there, but i felt tied and heavy and unable to bear the weight of my regret.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

i have sentences that slip through my mind and disappear before i can write the words. they drift in and around, draped between my thinking and my doing. tonight i was walking out of the bookstore. it was about 10.30. the streets were dark and wet from a simpering rain. lights coming from locked stores. the smells of tobacco and diesel and rain woven into one scent. for a moment i had paris in my veins. an empty candlelit bistro. a purposeful step on a dark dreamy street. and my mind bustling with words and images wrapped in ideas. the paris years for me were full of burgeoning ideas that felt huge and marvelous. that i had the luxury to explore and the youthfulness to leave unfinished. distracted by the next idea. these were the wonder years that cocooned my puzzling ideas, leaving me with only one regret and a lifetime of fuel.
it feels like months since i've sat and relished the peace of a clean house. today i mostly stayed away from the studio. tom and i ran errands together. we bought our christmas tree and some ornaments. i bought plants because i've been craving the smell of green.
and tonight i hunted down dirt and dust. i washed and moved things and scrubbed and bleached. i vacuumed and rearranged. and put out all the tacky little ornaments that tom loves so dearly from his childhood. they are his memories of christmas and over the years they have become mine as well. it's 1.30 a.m. .... later than i usually stay up. but i had to get this place clean and christmas-y. i will put away the dishes and go to bed.

Monday, December 12, 2011

yesterday was parfait!!! the flooding sun. the stream of wonderful people through the doors. the fresh bright conversation and laughter. the feeling of support and warmth as our friends brought friends to see our shop and hunt for gifts. and the exhaustion at the end of the day as we sat with our glasses and talked about the people we met, the stories we heard, the items we sold and how we look forward to our next sale. and i thank the people who were able to come share our day in person, as well as the wonderful people who read my blog and send me encouragement and good wishes, consistently fueling me and keeping me focused on living my own little dream of a life.
thank you for a fabulous day yesterday. and the promise of many more

Saturday, December 10, 2011

we are ready. or so close to ready that the final little tweaks can happen in the morning. the studio is delightfully prepared to welcome all for our christmas/holiday sale. tomorrow, sunday december 11th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tracy's encaustic paintings are making the upstairs sweet and warm with their beeswax colourings. trisha's dreamy, wool-filled waldorf dolls are smiling and napping throughout the little white house. there are tracy's sensual felted scarves, thick and soft and sexy. and trisha's fun, upcycled menswear purses. i have feather pillows and photos, collages and quilts. it's a wonderful holiday sale and we are excited to show you around. beautiful portsmouth village is the perfect spot for a sunday outing.....a walk along the harbour, through the lakeside park, and a visit to chasing lightning bugs studio at 55 mowat avenue.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

i can barely hold my eyes open right now. i'm just getting home from the bookstore after a full day in the studio. but i had these lovely photos of my paper room in my inbox from wonderful tracy of beautiful day. it's here that i can lose myself for days. the piles of paper, the images. the smell of glue, the light, the slanted ceiling. tracy shot these last week while i was in the paper up to my knees, making the collage corkboards. i kept promising to post photos of the paper room, and i love showing it to you now through tracy's wonderful eye.
she found the little details that speak of me. that describe what i do and who i am and what drives me. i love these photos....they are the paper room completely. little scraps of me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

i will always hear my grandmother's voice telling me i had a 'lazy man's load' when i piled too many things in my arms instead of making 2 trips. she said it was something that her grandmother said to her. i wonder what the 2 of them would have said this morning as i struggled up the stairs with a laundry basket full of 2 loads of clean, dry, unfolded laundry and a full to the brim mug of steaming black coffee. i don't know why i needed to carry them both at once. but we made it. now the bath is filling and i'll have coffee in my steamy lavender oil bath. i wonder if the lavender and caffeine will cancel each other.
yesterday i contended with lack of direction for part of the day. i kept doing things, but not the major things. i rendered 2 sewing machines useless, and was able to repair one to perfect smooth running order again. i framed photos and made gift tags and wrapped beeswax candles in twill tape and floral illustrations. but i was supposed to be sewing and couldn't get it going. but eventually i did and 6 beautiful pillows came of it. and after my lavender and caffeine bath, i'll be back at it for another wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the house is quiet and the day is still dark. i relaxed in a steamy bath full of lavender oil last night before bed, so i slept perfectly. my wonderful co-workers have rallied to help cover a couple shifts at the bookstore this week, so i'll have another 12 hours in the studio today. sewing and cutting and gluing. at some point i'll have to start cleaning up the creative mess as well.
this morning as i was groggily glancing at facebook, a random photo and comment appeared in the newsfeed. a photo of a beautiful white farmhouse with barns and shade trees, fields and pennsylvania's blue mountain rising up behind. and as i was admiring this photo from a perfect stranger that one of my friends had commented on, it was mentioned that this house full of memories and laughter, heartache and triumph was going to be used as a practice burn by the local fire dept. i can't wrap my head around things like this. when beautiful old houses are overlooked and underloved, it's like the architectural version of elder abuse. all the beautifully aged wood, the trims and decorative features.....and the spirit of the house. my sentimental self takes over completely. and i feel an ache for the life that those walls protected through generations. i suppose that the purpose it is serving in training firefighters is an honorable one, but i can't help but be saddened regardless.
i will sew again today and enjoy the wonderful energy pool that is flooding the studio right now and absorb the dreamy energy of the 180 year old house that shelters us.
our christmas studio sale is this coming sunday, december 11 from 10 until 4. i'll be reminding you every day....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

yesterday morning, while i was in the bath, 2 low vees of geese flew past the window, just above the dark leafless trees that spread across the window pane. i could hear them but only saw a glimpse of them. the trouble was that the bedroom air conditioner was still in the window, blocking half of my view. the little window is paned with old bubbled glass and sits over the kitchen roof. i love that window. i used to climb out of it and sit on the roof to read. i must be getting old. i don't do that anymore.....oh right, the damn air conditioner is blocking me. so, my impetuous self took over. i climbed out of the tub, wrapped up in a towel, and hauled the damn thing out of the window. but it was also heavier than i remember. alot heavier. and i was in a towel. tom came home last night to find it dropped in the bedroom doorway. but my window was clear and i had the loveliest bath this morning. the sky. the trees. the flags from the harbor. the gorgeous stone walls of the prison. and at night the moon fills the window for a while as well.
and since i'm in the paper zone and i've been showing you the corkboards i've been making, i thought i'd give you a peek at a couple of my collage pieces. above is 'napoleon unpeeled' and below is 'the dance'. both were done this summer.
i need to sew tomorrow. make some stockings and more christmas napkins. but i will be in mourning for the paper, i'm sure of it. but i must prepare for our studio sale. the grand gala of christmas sales is happening a week from today on sunday december 11th from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. if you are local, be sure to swing by. i'll keep reminding you!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

it takes a little while to get the momentum solidly in place. and finally i've found it....although i need to get back to the quilts soon. but the last few days in the paper room making these collage corkboards have been wonderful. i had a bit of trouble adjusting the composition to such a large size. these are poster size corkboards, and i had a hard time finding the right proportion. but i got there. and my other problem was pulling myself back....remembering that these aren't fine art collage on panel, but more simple and less intricate pieces of functional art.
tonight we're going to meagan's to watch 'home alone' to get the christmas spirit in full swing....but i think i'll sneak out and head next door to the studio for a while if it's not too rude. i'm working on a fifth and i want to finish it tonight. i really don't want to stop.

Friday, December 2, 2011

all day yesterday i cut paper, thumbed through images, glued, scraped, squinted, stared. i love making the functional art pieces i'm working on. beautiful collage corkboards. i'm working on 4 at a time which works for me. when i find a fabulous image that doesn't work for one piece, it may work in another. so i scurry around from board to board, making little worlds on cork.
tracy took photos of the paper room the other day. when she gets them uploaded, i'll post them. i know with her clear and true eye, you will see the paper room as you would if you clomped up the stairs yourself and into the slope ceillinged little yellow room high in the trees looking out on the lake. i'm heading there now. letting the papers settle overnight and looking at them anew in the morning light is a good thing. i was there until 9.30 last night and my choices might have started losing the sharpness that i rely on.
so off i go. i'll get photos of the boards. and tracy's photos will come soon. i just don't have the patience to wait for the photos to post. the little story of my day was just begging to be blurted out....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

the trees are scribbling their lines against the sky. the sun is coming up orange. i've been awake a couple of hours. reading blogs. working on photos. ordering prints. too groggy to make coffee. content to curl in a quilt with the computer propped on my lap. a cat warming my feet. hearing the sounds of the village waking. the furnace beginning it's morning drone. a truck rattling the window as it passes on it's way to work on the house being built around the corner. tom complains when i start my bath too early. my porcelain and iron, clawfoot bathtub that is tucked in a corner of our bedroom is one of my favorite things. i love that it's part of our bedroom, that i can soak in a steamy, oil-scented bath and still be part of the bustle of our little life. (link to an earlier post about my tub with a photo)however, when i would love a bath at 5 a.m. after edgar has dragged me from bed and i might as well have an early start to the day.....the tumble of water is too loud and i just can't do it to my sleeping husband. besides, he'd destroy my bath with his complaining. yes there is a bathtub in the bathroom, but i don't think i've ever had a bath in it. it feels icy and stiff and not at all what i have in mind for my bath.
i'm heading to the studio early. the paper room is luring me...