Monday, June 19, 2017

Iceland - Yeah!

The family went to Iceland for a week.

We had such a great time. No body slept well, it was full light for 16 hours a day and when it was dark, it was light. We were continually shocked by the prices of everything. Eventually, we had to decide to ignore the prices and just go for it. The chances of us all going back again are close to zero, so...what the @#@#. Just go for it.

We started at Geyser, an active geyser that spouts about every 15 minutes.

The first one took us by surprise. As Lucas said, "The earth just blew up at our feet". 
There were signs all over warning people not to touch the water. Phoebe and I just couldn't stop ourselves.

Some was hot, some wasn't.

From here we traveled to Gullfosa (water falls). Oh. MY GOD.

I thought I had seen some amazing places before, but these waterfalls were so incredibly shaped. They came down in several ledges. The speed of the water was crazy. There was a near permanent rainbow.  Niagara Falls should feel embarrassed.

Then, it all just dropped out of sight. Down a 90 degree precipice. For several hundred feet. Boom. The river continued on between two steep gorge walls.

I admit the walls were nothing like the Grand Canyon, but the waterfall just blew that thought away. We were all so excited and impressed, we just spun around taking pictures. It was a collective "Holy Cow! family moment. We didn't want to leave but rain was coming down and spray from the falls meant the cameras were at risk. What did we do next? We hit the road and went back to the apartment. We managed to find a small convenience store and get enough ingredients to pull a diner together and we all collapsed in bed. No one slept. Time change? Lightness? Awe? It didn't matter, we were all eager for the next day's adventure.

Friday, June 9, 2017


We are buzzing off to Iceland for a week. I will miss this upcoming Monday post (again) but should be home in time for the next Monday. We are taking our two children (29 and 27) and a friend. We are celebrating Lucas' and Phoebe's graduations from high school, university and both earned their Master's Degree in the past few years. Miss Ryan, the friend, can celebrate whatever she wants to. Steve and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary of legal marriage and our 38 years of being together.  We might have done this already when we went to London England, but since I have a poor memory, let's pretend not.

Steve is also celebrating the end of an amazing exhibition at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown, PEI and the nearly published accompanying book. We will pretend it is off the press. I will be celebrating my unpublished but award winning book.

Before we leave, I will be reading from my unpublished book at the Award winning ceremony at the Central Library and glowing from the praise and the lovely cheque. Several hours later, I can spend it in Iceland. Oh very happy day.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Studio Work and Gifts

The course with Karen's Artistic Books comes to an end. I managed to watch all the videos and worked on my little sample booklet.

This was a great course and is probably available on line as a self-study class. Check the link in the sidebar.

I knew a lot of the techniques but hadn't transferred the knowledge to small pieces of paper. Here are a few images from the past weeks.

Steve brought home some lovely flowers to celebrate my winning the Joyce Barkhouse Prize for Childrens and Young Adult writing. Very local.

I bought myself some threads to play with over the summer for my Squish series.

On Monday past (that's why I didn't post anything) I was away at an overnight retreat with fellow textile artists from around the province. Note that there is a certain generation represented. We haven't connected with the younger artists, but maybe it's OK. Gives us old gals a chance to gab, catch up and exchange info without a succession agenda or an agenda or any kind. Beyond wine at 5, there is little planned. We do a show and tell and work on projects.

 I tried to do another selfie. Good thing the view behind me is nice.

And, I was able to not only finish the section of the garden that started out as a thyme bed, but died, then returned as a bee station,


the bees returned. These are two Nucs which will be sold on to new bee keepers and in July, hopefully, a large hive will take their place. Stingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Exciting News

I won! I won, I won, I won !
What did you win? you ask.

I won the Writer's Federation of Nova Scotia Unpublished Manuscript prize. It is officially the Joyce Barkhouse for Children and Young Adults Prize. I didn't realize it when I submitted in November of last year that there is a cash amount as well as the honour. That's a great bonus, but I just so thrilled that my chapter book for young readers was chosen.

The book is called "Beach Meadow Friends". It is about Fox, Crane, Eagle and Crab as they live through a season on Beach Meadows.

Crane is silent most of the time, Crab is a slightly panic stricken crustacean, Eagle is a huge boaster with an enormous sense of self and Fox patiently keeps the community going. Each chapter has its own challenge or joke and different combinations of the characters are featured.

Beach Meadows is an actual place, about a 20 minute drive from our summer camp.

One very cold windy day as we were walking along the beach at low tide, a young fox walked alongside us for about 200 metres. I have a photo of him on the kitchen wall but can't find it in my archive. Maybe Steve took it.

We discussed the nature of the fox and Steve said if you had a totem animal, it would be the fox. It felt so completely right. Over the course of a few summers, seven short chapters evolved and with some editorial help from some very nice friends, the book was written. I get to read from it at the award ceremony on June 10 and immediately afterwards, go to Iceland. What a great day it will be. What shoes will I wear?

Monday, May 15, 2017

What colour is this?

This is the weirdest colour I have ever come across.

I purchased this mohair wool about a year ago thinking to make a snuggly shawl. I thought it was a light mauve. I wanted something in the purple family, but not too dark and not too pink. Six months ago, I was back in the shop and asked if I could swap it for another colour, because it just wasn't singing to me.

I put the two balls back on the shelf, wandered around looking at other things and when my eyes were clear, I went back to choose a new colour. And chose the same two balls. In the pile of different colours, it showed up as a lovely mauve. It went well with all the other colours, reds, blues, yellows, greens and greys. I thought well this is obviously a versatile colour and will work with most of my clothes. I figured I had over thought things and went back to my original decision. Six months later, major month of sickness and it is time to get knitting on something that requires no brains at all.

In fact, I think zombies could knit this shawl pattern. Increase at one edge, purl back a row, repeat until first ball of yarn is finished. Decrease at the same edge, purl back a row, repeat until yarn is finished. Knit on 4 or 5 mm short needles, this is even easy on aching hands. The shawl itself is fine and will be a lovely thing to wear once it is blocked. But what the hell colour is it? It is ghastly. I've held it up against many other colours and while it never clashes, it never sparkles either.

For those of you who visit to see my studio stitching, it has been a barren month. I've been pretty sick for most of it and am up out of bed only two days ago. Still not breathing well, but soon.

I was able to get enough gumption up for one afternoon and managed to make two very small samples. I am rather proud of them, despite their size. See the gauzey mauve paper? That's the colour mauve I thought the knitting was going to be.

 Even the cat, Cleo Belle, who looks elegant in most colours, thinks this colour is a bore.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hmmm, which photos to choose?

Steve and I have been playing "Sick as a Dog Tag" most of this winter and spring. It has been my turn to spend days in bed wheezing. Too fogged up to do anything more than watch black and white movies (Mrs TJ) I started to fret about missing two Mondays in a row. It turns out I have plenty of photos to share, but which thread to follow?

There's the thread of the garden,

There is plenty of time to look at garden photos, so let's move on.

There is the thread of a new course with Karen Ruane (here) called the Artist book

We are stitching paper and lace and fabric together (no surprise really) and of course, embellishing the hell out of it.

I am pretty behind on this given my lack of lungs and brain, so there isn't much to show yet.

The thread of "Me Made May" is something I've been working towards. For the past two years I have been gradually sewing more and more of my clothes. Out in the ether world there is an event called "Me Made May" that encourages sewists to wear at least one item per day in the month of May, that they made themselves. This selfie business is pretty tricky. I couldn't get the entire me photoed in the mirror. On top is a light blue t-shirt in a knit. It is the first knit that I have sewn since I foolishly made a bikini in the '70's and rued the swan dive that left my bathing suit back on the board. This knit item stays on when I move.

Below it is a lovely swishy skirt. Black knit slip with a black and blue floral circle skirt.

The shawl is a silk/linen combo that I knit over the spring is called Wayland (here) by Amor Esperanza. Very simple and quick.

Only the undergarments are store bought. I haven't signed up to properly participate in this event, so I don't have links to patterns or fabric sources. That's too much to ask. My closet is getting pretty full of items I have made. Yeah me.

The thread of "What happened in here?" is still haunting me. As I spring cleaned other parts of the house, tended to the garden and seedlings and became sick, everything was tossed in here. I am still stepping over piles, but at least the chair is clear of books. I put them on top of something else.

The final thread is "What's missing?" What is missing are my bees. The beekeeper Michelle had to take Queen Crocus out to her other hives and blend this hive with a hive that isn't doing too well. Just a few weeks ago, this hive wasn't doing so well and Michelle brought some bees from her other hives here. This hive began to thrive but lo.... A queen at the other hives died and the bees there needed rescuing. I miss the bees like crazy. I found them very calming. I'd look out multiple times a day and see different shadows and light playing on the hive, different amount of bees zooming around and different birds or cats sat around watching the bees. I am hoping that Michelle is able to bring a new hive here again one day. And that's only a drop in the barrel on what's been going on around here for the past two weeks.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Stitch a day sometimes

In 2015 or maybe even 2016, I decided to try this idea of stitching on a dedicated piece every day.

I also had the notion that I would restrict each season to a small colour palette. You can tell by the opening sentence I didn't have a lot of stick-to-it-ness. I was thoroughly bored in weeks. I changed the rule to stitching once a week. I tidied everything up, put it in a nice basket so I could get it out once a week, and forgot about it.

Months later I showed it to my gang of textile artist friends and there was strong suggestions that I finish it. Don't look a successful artist's advice in the mouth. Do as one is told to do. I finished it.

It's not so bad. Some parts are even good. As the eye journeys left to right, the first section of dark reds, golds and green are the palette for winter.

Then the colours overlap a bit for winter and spring.

They overlap once more for summer. I was going to swing up overhead and do fall as a kind of sky, but really, I had had enough. And the piece had too. It looked finished to me. Not just because I wanted it to be over, but because there weren't any more colours that were calling out to me, there didn't seem to be anymore stitch combinations that wanted stitching,

I felt I had explored all there was. Once I decided on how to treat the top edge, by having an uneven hem on the front side, it really did feel complete to me. The hem is the detail that pulled the work together for me and now I like it a whole lot more. I really don't mind an open ended stitching project, but the limited colour palette and the 'do something everyday' parts weren't up my alley. I like a lot of colour and to stitch as much as I want to. I can see exploring this again, but with slightly different rules. In 2018 or 19 or 20.