some weeks my time and my thoughts are all consumed with my work. what i'm making. how to market it. how i want my business to function. this was one of those weeks. i missed having my moments here in the library with edgar and my blog. but even now, with the still laziness of a saturday morning, i continue to be thinking business thoughts. i haven't kept my etsy shop very full of late, although the studio shop is. so i'm spending the weekend uploading aprons and tunics and napkins....anything i can get a good photo of. my plan was to do some house cleaning and relaxing today, but i think i've been upstaged by my own crazy drive....i can't control it. that comes straight from my father. so off i go to write about the tunics and list them on etsy. if you want to have a peek..... it's here
i love the mornings i am awake too early. i watch the trees become visible against the lightening sky. and i sit with my thoughts. and with edgar's deep sleepy breathing. and a cat or two leaned against my leg. but i think it's the stillness and the doing-nothing-ness of these mornings that gives me the fuel to make creative decisions for the next 10 hours. these early mornings are a luxury of quiet self-directed thoughts. this is when i like to write here in my blog. sometimes my mind is so empty and tired that i just write what i see around me. this morning is like that. but as i write my mind and my eyes open up. i warned tom last night that i wanted an early morning bath this morning. so off i go.....it will probably wake him. but my day has started now. my mind is racing with all the quilts i need to finish.
yesterday was a complicated, but beautiful one. i limped through most of the day in a little cloud of worry. worry for a few people dear to me. but near the end of the day, as our sale was quiet and empty, a car pulled up. i watched a woman get out of the car. and i squealed. i recognized immediately the little red haired girl in the woman crossing the street and heading to the door. for here was my best friend from childhood, who although we bumped into each other 17 or 18 years ago, we haven't had a proper visit since we were in grade 8. i was giddy and girly. i may have hopped up and down. all the names and faces that flooded through our conversation. it was incredible. her children's pictures. our husbands. our parents. our work. an entire lifetime.....so much unknown and yet so much familiar as well. i am so thrilled she found out about the sale and made the effort to come. we will re-kindle the childhood friendship now. it was a special afternoon. and afterward, i was giving naomi a quick goodnight cuddle and i told her that i had seen my best friend from when i was little like her. she looked up at me with wonder in her face and said "what did she look like?" and i said "she looked like a little girl and old like me all at once". and she giggled.
when i first was building things from fabric, i had a stall for the summer in our beautiful downtown market. i sold totes and quilts and aprons. but i ended up falling away from the aprons in recent years. until today. people have been asking me for aprons again recently. and i do love making them. and wearing them. so i'm making some reversible, flat front 1/2 aprons for our sale this week. the colors are fresh and elegant and fun. perfect as an affordable gift, or a just-because purchase for yourself! we are also welcoming liv again, with her amazing goats milk soap and lavender sprays. for any return customers who are ready for more spray, bring your empty bottle for a refill at a $1 savings. sunday the 25th of march, the little white house at 55 mowat ave in portsmouth village is open for visitors and sales. 10 - 4. see you then!
i am a slave to the lake. sometimes it feels like she breathes for me. i wake up beside her and she keeps me moving all day. she is magnetic. our dance is at once, grave and dreamy. sometimes she roars and cancels out all other sound, so my thoughts are singular and safe. and sometimes her stillness is my balm. whatever she is is what i need. that is our agreement.
the streetlight outside my bedroom window is burned out. i like the feel of the real night. the night is black and the stars are bright. and i'm cradled in darkness. soothing and thick, the night. our weather is still treating us to august in march. and because of the warmth, edgar was bathed this afternoon, on the porch in the sun. all the stink of winter washed away. he is soft and sweet smelling. and tired out. he has slept hard all evening. it's these lonely dark nights that i wish his long wobbly legs would still carry him upstairs to sleep with us. and crowd us out of the bed. but i have stella. she guards me as i sleep. when the hour grows late and we haven't headed upstairs yet, she doesn't leave my side. she takes her job seriously and i know she's happier for it.
i wanted to go straight to the studio when i got home from the bookstore last night. but it was almost 10.30 and i hadn't seen tom since 8.30 in the morning when he left for work. he was in bed. i went up to talk a few minutes and say good night. i told him of my plans to set my alarm for 5.30 this morning. he groaned. i understand. i hate the alarm and i'm usually awake before it anyway so it only serves to start off the morning with a little punch of annoyance. i said i'd forget about the alarm and hope that edgar barked at 5.30 instead. and exactly at 5.31 this morning edgar thought he should go out for a pee. my wish came true and i was up with the music of the birds. but i dawdled on the computer and when i went back to the bedroom to get dressed, the bed looked so warm and cozy that i couldn't resist another little nap and cuddle. so although edgar did a marvelous job of waking me at the exact moment i asked him to, i still didn't get to the studio until 7.15. and when i arrived with the orange morning light pouring through the east kitchen window and onto my sewing table, it was my favorite spot in the world at that moment. i am a fortunate one to walk in the door and be in love with my work.
and just a reminder.....we are sharing the studio with you all this sunday, march 25th. the little white house at 55 mowat ave in portsmouth village will be open for you to explore and buy it's treasures. and we have the added bonus of liv simple farms joining us again. we'll be there from 10 until 4.
we slept with the bedroom windows open last night. we still have the storms on downstairs, but thankfully we leave the screens on all winter in the bedroom...i like to be able to open them, and it's the cat's preferred entrance in the middle of the night. the night air was heavy and hot and moist. like august. in march. and tom got up at 4 am to close it because the birds were too loud for him. i've been hanging laundry on the line for days. quilts. sheets. tea towels. skirts. it's been phenomenal and odd and very lovely. it's giving me a sneak peak at summer and i'm ready! tom is busy with the yard clean-up. and he's loving his basketball and beer after work. i'm ready to start sewing on the back porch at the studio. i've straightened up the chaotic sewing room so i'm not drowning in fabric scraps. it's been a cleansing few days. and on sunday march 25th, we're having our next sale at the studio. come by and pick up some items to add some springlike colour to your home. 55 mowat ave in portsmouth village, from 10 until 4.
i collect letters written by strangers. i have fat little clutches tied with tattered ribbons. and ragged folders with pages of different sizes and different handwriting. i have bought them online. i have bought them locally. i've bought some because i fell in love and some i bought thinking i'd use in collage, but then fell in love with them and couldn't. one little bundle of letters is a lifetime worth of letters. the first letter is june of 1904, from walter, a newly ordained anglican minister in kingston ontario, to his mother in new brunswick. his father is also an anglican minister. there are no letters from his mother, but several from his father. and very quickly there are letters between his new fiancee, florence and his father, by way of introduction. they are very formal and the handwriting is calligraphic. and suddenly the letters move to the 1920s. they are to and from phyllis, walter and florence's only child who has gone to toronto to study music. and letters to florence and phyllis from walter when he is away. and then there are letters of support to florence and phyllis during walter's illness, and then of sympathy after his death. it is the story of a life. there are recital programs and report cards from the university of toronto conservatory of music. the last letters are dated in the 1950's from florence to phyllis, in a shaky hand and signed 'mother'. the story is loving and touching and you feel thoroughly part of their lives. i have read through this collection dozens of times in the 18 years i've had it. after i moved to portsmouth village, i noticed that the family from these letters also lived in portsmouth village. which delighted me. there were photo enlargement envelopes from peter's drugs, our neighborhood pharmacy that has been owned by the same family for generations and generations. but i'll never know how it took me so many years to notice that the return address, properly written in the top right corner of so many of the letters, was 53 mowat avenue. the address of the house that is my studio is 55 mowat avenue. it's like my little life on this little corner in portsmouth village knew the neighbors from a lifetime ago.
this morning is a little dreary and gray. i have squares calling to me from the studio waiting to be fashioned into quilts, but i am slow getting started. i had a delightful bath with one of the cocoa butter bath melts from liv simple farms. i hope to live in this cloud of lavender all day, with silky smooth skin and a sunny disposition. and it's not just me in love with these products. i've had several people this week mentioning to me how addicted they have become to livs stuff, how much better their skin is feeling from the soap and how fresh their homes are smelling. i hope liv will come and be part of another sale with us. so, the dishes are washing and edgar has eaten and there is thunder rumbling through the sky again. i'm heading to the studio and the day is underway!
when i heard the sounds of thunder in the night, i was confused. i jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. i thought the rumbley shaking was the sound of edgar losing his footing and taking a terrible fall in the room below us. but happily i found him sleeping soundly under his quilt on the sofa in the living room, completely unphased. when i got back into bed the sound began again and only after the 3rd or 4th time did i recognize it as thunder. and then the room was lit white with lightning and the house shook some more. it was quite a wild night storm. i'm not a worrier. but for some reason lying in bed with the night exploding around me, i started to worry. the power of the lightning, the thunder shaking the windows and the downpour of rain....the storm was scaring me. i started to worry about the studio roof. my parents barn. finances and taxes. my parent's upcoming trip. tom's parents who are on their way to australia. maybe it was because i awoke with a start of worry about edgar. but it was certainly a relief to wake up and find the worry gone. the rain is still falling and it looks like the day will be a gray one, but my little world is back to normal.
3.30 am is a magical hour that is both late and early. i'm never sure if it's night or morning. edgar got me up a little while ago and despite my exhaustion the past couple of days, i haven't been able to get back to sleep. the moon is huge and low and tilted on it's 3/4 side, hanging in the trees by my window, flirting with me. i can't seem to look away. yesterday after dinner we headed out on a walk. a fast paced, we need exercise, sort of walk. along the water and through the buildings i adore. but when we reached lake ontario park, we found it fully under construction. this park is an untouched piece of beauty that has been my favorite destination since i was a child. the lake, the trees, the little round bathroom buildings, the long house. and the remains of a tiny amusement park with rides and mini golf that was there for 50 years until 7 or 8 years ago when it was dismantled and moved to a dusty and exhaust smelling property just off the highway. i thought my heart wouldn't recover the day i saw the little roller coaster and giant slide and bumper cars coming down. but now, after years of getting used to the park without the kitschy cotton candy stand and merry go round, i think they are constructing a high end urban landscape. the loveliness will be interrupted with stone work and fountains and it's all breaking my heart all over again. my camera went with us last night. and i've posted photos of our walk on foblographie. you can link through to have a peek.
tonight was our first barbecue of the season. steak and roasted potatoes and salad. i came home from the studio to a busy kitchen, phish pouring out the open door on to the porch, and tom readying dinner. there is a pattern of summer already blending into the evening. calm and endless. and even though the trees are empty still, they seem somehow summery. we are heading out to walk along the lake. an evening tradition we are attempting to build. a little movement and sunlight and time together. an after dinner walk. it's a good way to welcome the warmer weather....a barbecue and a walk.
the ground is covered with little yellow crocuses. they have worked their way up through the mud and dirt and tangle of last years weeds and sit enjoying their moment in the chilly sun. we saw them for the first time on sunday after our sale. we were exhausted. i think i was more tired this time than ever. the combination of losing an hour to the time change and working to get prepared put me into a dazed stupor of exhaustion. and we saw the crocuses as we walked around the corner to our neighborhood pub for some dinner. i love that crocuses always surprise me. i catch my breath a little when i see them the first time. every year i believe we must be so lucky to be getting them so much earlier this year, bright against the mud and snow. our first little patch of color. my mother made a tiny posy with them and tucked them in a little bottle for our mantle. thank you to all of you who send such lovely wishes to me and our studio. and to those who are near enough to come out and make our sales such fabulous days.
spring is just around the corner. the clock moves ahead this weekend to give us extra light in the evening. i'll miss it in the morning, but i know it will catch up soon. the spring energy is taking over. i'm getting impatient for summer already. i've been sewing tunics all week. really getting into it. the collection is full of varying sizes and fabrics and colors. they are fresh and comfy. and reversible. perfect as the warmer weather approaches to wear as a flirty little dress. but i see them worn with jeans and flip flops. and also as the perfect bit of color thrown over a black turtleneck and tights.....perfect combination of sleek and funky. liv came by tonight to set up for her part of our sale on sunday. a table full of buckets of soap and all her other lovely products. the entire little house is pulsing with lavender....it's wonderful. we'll be open from 10 until 4 on sunday march 11. at 55 mowat ave in portsmouth village. the weather predictions look amazing. while you're out enjoying the day, drop by the studio to check out all our lovely products and the new items we've been working on the last couple of weeks. and you can head down to the lake for a stroll.....don't forget to bring bread for the ducks. we'll see you sunday.
there is wind curling all around the house. it makes deep shadowed sounds against the stone walls and into the living room chimney. hollow and vibrant. it makes music with the giant spring that tries to keep the door of the front porch closed. and picks up the door and slams it. the moon is large and dramatic. dancing with the layered changling clouds and the thick black branches. there is a sudden high pitched scream of the wind through a flag pole. the sort of sound we hear in the summer when the boats and the wind become a possessed sort of choir. but our harbour's boats are quiet and still in their winter poses. silenced in their tombs. now i will head up the stairs to my crowded warm bed. with the baritone roar fresh in my ears. and there will be scraping of branches across the the little bedroom window. with the moon smiling from behind. the distant sound of waves cracking. and the contented sounds of sleepy tom and sleeping cats.
what will today be? i'll be sewing tunics. i know that. i'd like to tidy and organize my sewing room but that will be a future endeavor. there are predictions of a warm and sunny day, so i'll take edgar along the lake. and i'll make things to fill the studio for our sale on sunday. i'm looking forward to it. i feel the spring-ness of it. i feel the spring in these tunics that i draw on butcher paper and then watch come to life. each one is different. each one is new and lives to find it's match, it's person. i had my beautiful friend samantha with her model-like loveliness visiting me at the studio yesterday. she tried them on. and seeing them on her made me giddy. really. they look as fresh and free and simple and breezey as i'd hoped. as i see them in my mind while i draw and cut and sew them into being. there will be all sorts to choose from on sunday. our sale is 10 until 4 on sunday march 11. 55 mowat in beautiful portsmouth village. i hear it's supposed to be a sunny and warm day, so bring the family for a little outing along the lake. you won't be disappointed. and remember we have wonderful natural soap products from liv simple farms as well.
on the weekend i found a new product that i'm in love with. it's a completely natural surface spray (think febreze, but without the chemicaly-ness). homegrown lavender, grapefruit and mint. sprayed on the rugs and the sofas and edgar's bed. the rooms are fresh and breezey smelling. like spring has arrived. with edgar and the cats, keeping our house smelling fresh in the middle of winter is always a challenge, but this surface spray has just made it a little simpler.
livia simpson of liv simple farms is the brains behind this great product. there is also linen spray, room spray and a line of great goats milk soaps and lotions. they raise the goats and grow the lavender and turn all that goodness into amazing products. tracy and i are both smitten with the products and have invited lovely livia to take part in our next sale. and she has agreed. so this coming sunday, march 11 from 10 until 4, we are welcoming you to the little white house at 55 mowat avenue in portsmouth village. tracy is working on some new felted pieces and she has still some wonderful encaustics available too. i'm making new spring inspired tunics for the young and the even younger, as well as totes and quilts and napkins etc. there are journals and pendants and pillows and all sorts of loveliness to feast on. and an amazing line of handmade home and body care you will absolutely want to try.
i'm waking up slowly this morning. edgar who woke me up to take him outside at 6.45, is now happily asleep in front of the fire. there has been a cat brawl in the middle of the street under our bedroom window involving ellsworth. i'm hunting everywhere for my wallet that seems to have disappeared sometime yesterday afternoon. and tom is playing 'the violent femmes' on the guitar in the other room, and after rocking out to it for ten minutes he's decided to sing it as a ballad. it's a funny morning.
i took photos upstairs at the studio yesterday to give you all a peek. tracy's encaustic paintings float about the walls. her little red room with the big blue chair sits under the eave. i love the cans of colored wax.
long exposures tonight. some of them almost 10 seconds. tom playing guitar, the movement is non-stop. the room glows. i'm on the sofa under a quilt with my legs stretched out along edgar's belly. and stella won't leave us, surfing on my legs as i move. tom is finding great songs in his head. u2. madonna. kermit the frog. phish. the grateful dead. ryan adams. a perfect little night of songs. we ordered pizza and tried to watch a movie, but it was a guitar and camera sort of night. it wouldn't be denied. i worked on my french painter's smock in the studio today. since i drew it freehand on butcher's paper, my first try needs a bit of tweaking. it's a little too much like the child's version....a bit shapeless and not fitted enough. but my next version may be the right one. and i'm already imaging different beautiful versions.
i love this blurred photo. lit by the fireplace. i took it a couple of weeks ago. the winter light that is swiftly moving into spring. edgar dislikes this time of year. there is ice in the yard from the soft muddy ground freezing. and then wet snow on top of the frozen mud which is now frozen as well, creates a layer of slippery that makes edgar tense and shaky. his long legs unstable. he hates it. so last night after bringing him inside and seeing him shaking and uncomfortable on the sofa, tom suggested i cut his front nails.....they were getting long and it could make him feel unsteady. i agreed and started clipping away. dora and gala, my other great danes wouldn't let me near them with the nail clippers, fighting me with everything except their teeth. but edgar is complacent and allows me to nip off his nails with no struggle. i should do it more often, but i think i'm still scarred by dora and gala and i think it's going to be a huge ordeal. but after i'd smoothly made it through half his nails, i hit a bleeder. his foot (and the quilt on the couch) was immediately in a puddle of blood. he seemed unphased by it, he didn't yelp or pull away, but the blood wouldn't stop. we used corn starch to quell the bleeding. and it helped until he got up to eat. huge bear sized footprints of blood across the floors. i have a spot where a chair wore the finish from the floor. and now his blood is worked into that spot, the wood stained red. it made me think of 'the red violin'. now he has a bowl of flour beside him to stop the bleeding if it starts again.
this morning we awoke to heavy wet snow on the ground and in the air. the combination of a snowy morning and a busy night last night has made me a bit lazy and slow this morning. i took a few photos last night, but i don't ever remember my camera until the signs are in and night surrounds us and the light is weak. so the pictures aren't lit very well, but they give you a glimpse. the tunics hanging with tracy's encaustic on salvaged board. the cotton vessels i'm obsessed with. and pendants draped over the loveliest piece of hollow tree that fell earlier in the winter and we brought into the shop. linen table runners and matching napkins infused with french sensibilities. and there is so much more upstairs. i didn't get up there with my camera, but you would have seen many more of tracy's beautiful and dreamy encaustic paintings, lovingly arranged under the sloping ceilings. i'll get them for next time. we met some lovely people last night, people who braved a cold and snowy night to share our little evening. we appreciate them and hope to see them again. i feel really fortunate to be able to spend my time in such a rewarding and satisfying way, doing what i love doing.
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