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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A New Chapter

This autumn it will be 7 years since I bought the house.  In the fall of 2012 the  yellow and brown paint was peeling, and the borders around the foundation of the house were filled with grass and weeds. The yard, 4 lots wide, was a huge expanse of grass that took 2 hours to mow. It had been a dry summer, and the trees, shrubs and lawn were heat stressed and brittle. 
                                                                                                                     My 3rd summer here, I rented a man-lift, primed the house and painted the it a lovely green.... taken from the green speckles in the shingle colour. During  the 2 weeks I had the machine I also trimmed the large maples in the front yard and on the east side.                                                                                L                                                                                              Last summer, I laid out the garden hose on the front lawn, in shapes I thought would make attractive island beds, and sprayed the resulting outlines with white paint. This gave me a rough idea how big to make them, and how wide the meandering pathways of lawn between them would be. When that was to my liking, I dug up strips of turf along the outlines, wide enough to lay bricks into, and covered the grass where the bed would be with layers of cardboard, earth, and wood chip mulch.  This took many wheelbarrow loads of soil from the hill made in the back yard where I'd had the pond dug.... and most of the summer.  

Last autumn, I dug the ancient peonies from the east side of the house, divided and planted them in the new beds, along with some some heritage irises I'd got from an old homestead and hostas I'd put between the peonies when I first bought the house.  There was an old concrete sidewalk between the peonies and the house, that had a determined tilt toward the house which encouraged spring melt and summer rain to collect against the foundation and find its way into the basement.                                                                                                     T                                                                                        This summer's project has been to break up the old sidewalk and fill the hole with soil, preparatory to planting grass where the sidewalk once was. this proved to be a bigger job than expected, as there was another sidewalk beneath. each of them was a good 8 inches thick. 3 utility trailer loads of broken concrete were delivered to the local landfill, every piece moved by hand. I have biceps to die for.                              The sidewalk that approaches the front of the house will need to be replaced 

eventually as well. Amongst the weeds and quack grass in the beds against the house were a few rugged, ancient perennials! Heritage poppies, delphiniums, columbine and icelandic poppies were barely holding their own... but with some encouragement, they now fill the beds. I planted a forsythia in there a few years ago, that I'd given up on, but it's making a comeback this year.        

The back yard, once a desolate expanse of  lawn...  (can you tell I'm not a fan of acres of manicured grass?) now has a dry creek bed filled with smooth river stones, and a pond at one end, to divert and collect water away from the house. There's a shed and a greenhouse, and the rest of the space is in the process of becoming vegetable gardens, along the back lane. 

There's a little wooden bridge across the 'creek', near the pond, which is tucked at the feet of a massive rose bush with soft pink blossoms. She loves it that the water collects there for her, and shows her appreciation with a  heavy blush of sweet scented blooms through all of June.    

My grandmother's tiger lilies and irises follow me from place to place, 

 faithfully sharing their glory with every neighborhood they travel to.   

I've added some more modern roses to the front beds. This might be Emily Carr.... or Adelaide Hoodless...... or perhaps someone else..... I've lost the tags.  

The greenhouse is in its first season of operation.... the painting wasn't quite finished before planting time. Perhaps there'll be a chance to finish it in fall.  there wasn't money for materials for proper beds, so I scrounged tubs and trash cans and an old bathtub. The tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers don't seem to mind.  There are also rosemary, lemon grass, tomatillos and gazania in pots in the greenhouse. when it's finished it will have electricity, so I can hang a chandelier and plug in a tea kettle.... and a solar heated shower in the back corner by the door connecting it to the shed. The windows on the left all hinge open from the top, on chains, for ventilation.
The star of the greenhouse is this artichoke plant. 

 Across the yard from the greenhouse is the studio (formerly a small one car garage), where I give music lessons. It's chaos right now, as I spend every available moment working on the yard, but you can see the piano, the desk, and in the foreground on the left is the table holding my painting and printmaking materials. there's a big work table just out of sight behind the painting supplies. In the basket cube front and centre are wooden Brio trains & tracks for siblings of students to play quietly with while they and Mum or Dad wait during lessons.  the studio is my happy place, especially in winter, when I can't play in the dirt. There I can make all the mess and noise I want, without bothering my B & B guests.  

The little sofa folds out into a bed. When I know I'm going to be working in the studio late, I make the bed up so Mr. Dog can get his beauty sleep. He doesn't like being up late, and he mutters and grumbles at me about it. When I finish what i'm working on, I join him there for the night. Musicians on the Home Routes circuit who stay at my home often choose to stay on the hide-a-bed in the studio rather than in the house. I used to apologize when it was the only bed available, but they often seem to prefer it.... It's never in the state of dishabille you see here when a guest is using it.....  so I've stopped apologizing.   

Friday, January 26, 2018

I came by the blog world, just to show some of what I consider the best blogs to a teen-aged violin student who loves to write, and is curious about blogging.... and was reminded of how much I enjoyed it.... got a bit nostalgic, so i'll post some pictures of my latest creative efforts.  I'm recently returned home from 2 1/2 weeks at the Puppetry Intensive at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, in Banff, Alberta.  The town of Banff is in Banff National Park, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It's stunning.  And the Banff Centre is built on the shoulders of Sleeping Buffalo Mountain, which sits in the centre of the town of Banff.  Sleeping Buffalo Mountain is a place sacred to the first nations people here. It's a place of power.  

For 2 1/2 weeks, we studied movement, and gesture, and the subtleties of bringing inanimate objects to life.  During this time, we were never allowed to use words to bring life to our subjects.  No language to convey ideas and intentions and stories, other than the language of gesture, of movement, of focus and intent. It was magical.  A little, a small part each evening, of our time, was spent actually creating puppets, and learning the mechanics of their construction.    though I didn't manage to finish anything, I do have a few partly completed things to show for my time:

 This is the first stage of a rod puppet, yet to be paper mache'd and painted.  He's a little over a foot tall.

This one is a mask, used in exercises experimenting with spacial relationships and groupings. That's my hand behind it, for scale. 

 Here is the same mask, along with my 'puppet soul', a soft 'stuffie' used to learn to manipulate objects as we learned to give them expression and gesture, without words.  We walked our souls, interacted with other souls, explored our surroundings through them, and told stories with them, all without the spoken word.  

This fellow has a ball and socket armature in his head and neck, with a rod in the back of his head, to enable it to pivot up, down and sideways, in a realistic way. The wooden rods at his sides are the beginnings of arms, with leather hinges at the elbows. He'll have the cloth body and arms of a small child. He is destined to be an infant philosopher, I think, and tells me he wants curly hair, and a twin sister.  He's a rod puppet, so the central rod is how he is supported.  There will be one or more rods to his hands (when he gets them) to enable his hands and arms to move realistically.  
After 3 weeks away (at a very nice kennel), Maestro was extremely glad to be home. I felt the same way.  

Back to teaching music lessons four days a week, running a boarding house / B&B, and finishing an online course in property management.   And I wonder why I can't find time to finish the puppets.....?!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

post - Christmas in the Yukon

On a Christmas visit to to the Yukon, we stopped at Five Finger Rapids to let the dog stretch his legs.  It was a beautiful day, very mild for the north, at +2C.  This Raven spotted us stopping and came by for a visit. No doubt he was hoping we'd stopped for lunch.  This was as close as he'd let us get before he took wing.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


We celebrated Christmas a bit late this year.  Part of the festivities involved a sleigh ride, pulled by Norwegian Fjord Horses, Bert and Belle.  There still isn't a lot of snow.... just barely enough for a sleigh, which towed a couple of small toboggans for surfers.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rooster and friends

Showing along with the shoes are some more 'illuminated' found objects and some paintings:

Food of Love
on a broken up guitar found at Goodwill

Daisies behind a fence 
on an old cabinet door

on stretched canvas

Small Rooster
on stretched canvas

8 1/2 Right , and friends

Been a coon's age since I've been by.... seems like another life.  One of the lovely things about blogging is the last thread can be picked up and attatched to what follows reasonably seamlessly.  So here, following on the heels (couldn't resist) of 8 1/2 Left, is 8 1/2 Right.  In this view you can see the city buildings, the figure at the bottom of the stairs walking his/her dog, and the flock of birds against the night sky
This frame shows the staircase on the instep, more high-rises against the night sky, and, if you look closely, a couple on the balcony of the penthouse suite. 
It seems to be difficult for many to recognize anything done to a shoe as art, so, though they've been getting some attention, the oft repteated question is "why not a pair, so I can wear them?" 
My response to that is below, in the form of: "Once I was a Mermaid"; "Green Footprint"; and  "Light My Fire," presently on display in the 'Elemental' show at a local art gallery.

 Once I Was a Mermaid
Green Footprint
 Green Footprint closeup
Light My Fire

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Size 8 1/2, left

my daughter, the fashionista, donated a pair of shoes to the cause of art. i had this idea that they'd be an interesting 'canvas'. they were originally a 'nude' colour, very smooth and shiny.  i coated them with gesso, then drew on this one with sharpie markers.  i had in mind the idea of what wearing shoes like this feels like to some of us..... like walking on spikes and nails with the points all aimed at the soles of our feet, and tightly bound with rigid bands.  these things are not built for comfort.  

it will be going in an art show put on this weekend by the artists' guild i belong to.  it's our $100 sale, where everything on sale must cost $100.   i had hopes of having its mate ready as well, entitled 'Size 8 1/2, Right, but it's not finished.  that one has the beginnings of skyscrapers and a night-time skyline on it. along the platform sole at the toe is a person walking a dog under the street lamps