the last week of the year may be my favorite. the magical delight that follows the excitement and rush and exhaustion that is christmas. a relaxed and dreamy week. the days when you gradually bring your home and your thoughts back to the humdrum of daily life. the air is snapping cold outside, but you bundle up to trudge through fields of snow or city streets or house filled neighborhoods just to do it. there are video games to play and new dvds to watch and books to read. and lots of football and hockey on tv. the kitchen is full of all sorts of food just waiting to be snacked on. and occasionally dragging out the vaccuum doesn't even feel like a chore. there is a fire smoldering in the fireplace most of the time and everyday feels like the weekend. this is how i bid farewell to the past year and welcome the new, with a week of sundays.
my mind is foggy. it has been letting the most commonplace sensations take me traveling, taking me for the briefest moment to another place in my memory. and i simply find myself there, standing in it and letting it rush around me. i've been going to paris lately. maybe it's the mild winter weather we've been having. damp and not too cold. the other day, my deodorant, a crisp, fresh, sporty sort of scent flung me to paris. and the diesel exhaust of a bus passing has been filling my lungs with paris the last few weeks. it isn't unpleasant. it carries youth into me, briefly, and a little tremble in my heart. i love carrying those years with me, so close to my skin. the joy of walking streets with camera and pen, of wandering with little purpose and loving everything i find. all the dreams without the disappointment.
marriage is a really powerful thing. the youthful version of myself didn't think marriage really mattered, felt that it was a needless convention. but a true marriage that weathers sorrows and anger and indifference and comes over each crest stronger and with deeper respect and commitment.....it is a lovely thing to see. this afternoon i was at a celebration of our neighbor's 60th wedding anniversary....a lovely event for a magnificent couple. the snow was swirling off the lake as we shared a luncheon in their honor. tom wasn't able to come and i was seated with 6 strangers who were delightful and welcoming. i had a lovely afternoon. the love in a marriage seems to take on a life of it's own. even when you forget it's there. it's forceful and powerful and beautiful. and fills in the voids if you allow it to. it really is worth the hard work.
my studio sits on the sidewalk. it's a closeness to the street that i love. the window openings are where people walk by with such closeness that it makes me feel i could momentarily drift into their lives. and there are seasonal differences to how they pass the windows. in the winter people are hunched, often with their heads down, pushing themselves forcibly towards a destination. their shape is different. the pace is quick with a determined and hurried intent. but in the spring, summer and fall, people have a more open stance. they meet the day. there is an upright carriage and less desperate pace. some may walk with the same speed, but people look in to the day, face it, let it brush against their skin. the winter stance seems to be hiding, protecting, folding oneself away. and that isn't needed in the warmer months. so i'll watch the neighbors pass my windows with a tightened gait and discern the coming of warmer days as i sense the loosening of the steps that breeze past.
it seems that my studio is my own grown up playroom that is stocked with enough potential activities to keep me busy for an unlimited amount of time. i have walls of fabric and a room of paper and scissors and glue and sewing machines. and floating above all the busy-ness, i have 'the waltons'. they are as much a part of the process that sends quilts and journals and napkins and pillowslips out into the world as the sewing machine or the paper room. the soundtrack of my little workshop that pulses through the work is the story of a depression-era family living in rural virginia. i love the waltons. i remember watching its first season as a child. and it's hold on me is the same now, almost 40 years later. i love loving certain members of the family, especially grandpa. and i love despising john-boy.....complete with rolling my eyes and sometimes yelling at the screen. i defend myself laughingly with everyone who walks in and chuckles as i'm forced to pause my constant loop of waltons dvds. well yesterday i discovered a soulmate in 7 year old naomi. she and her mom were heading out shopping and dropped in to say hi. but naomi got sucked into a season 7 episode.....when maryellen's husband curt is killed in pearl harbor. naomi ended up staying with me while her mom went shopping. we watched 3 episodes while i continued to sew. she didn't get bored and only asked me to explain the characters. it was a lovely rainy afternoon.
now that winter is fully and completely here, the nights are cozy and snuggly and sleepy. we have fires and quilts and slippers. a cup of tea sits naturally beside my book. and my winter reading is a completely different sport from it's summer cousin. winter books are slow and thick and dense, always face down on a sofa or chair waiting to be picked up for a few minutes or an hour. and a cat usually curls on my leg. tom watches hockey and nostalgic 1960s christmas specials on tv. and we go to bed early. this is how we get used to winter.
this weekend it became winter. snow fell and stayed on the ground. boots and hats and mittens became a necessity. and the air doesn't harbor a trace of gentleness any longer.....it's sharp and cold, while the night sky is pink with it's snowy wintry glow. when i slipped into bed last night at 11 the sky was the same hue as when edgar forced me out of bed and down the stairs this morning at 5. like a red silk scarf has been flung over the moon.
houses visit me long after i visit them. i remember little areas and details that i hope will never change. when a house shows me her old iron heating grates and thick plank floors and high chipped baseboards and tall gracious ceilings and porcelain bathroom fixtures, my heart is captured. i re-enter these houses in my mind and i walk through them. i smell the odd old smells and hear the echoey creaks. chipped paint and ugly wallpaper. cracked linoleum and crumbling plaster. i want it all. i do want to see the restored beauty. i do want to see the rooms bulge with pride and a personal raison d'etre. but the aged tale it weaves around me in it's cracked and crumbling state is the rarer story i prefer. but i realize the miss haversham in me is peeking up as it always does, waiting just barely under my skin, testing me and taunting me. i know that to save a house is to hide the toughest parts of it's story. but if i can edit and re-work and coax the telling so the story stays in tact and is able to add chapter after chapter as it continues to warm and feed and bed it's families, it's story is a truer one.
i love baths. maybe it comes first from loving bathtubs, the smooth curves, the claw feet, the heavy substantial iron smoothed over with porcelain. i was always drawn to them. but i didn't know i loved baths until i found my first apartment. it was the upstairs half of an old turn of the century house that never quite smelled right no matter how much i cleaned. and there wasn't really a shower. it had a hand held thing in the tub that had broken after a few weeks. so i started to take baths. and started to love them. maybe it was the only time i could escape the odd smell in the rest of the place.....i don't know, but my love of baths was born and will always be. when i lived in paris i had the tiniest closet of a bathroom with a miniscule bathtub that was basically the same area as a shower stall, but it was a bathtub. i would curl myself into this tiny little basin and be so glad for the luxury of it. any place i lived was always chosen for the tub.
and this is my favorite corner of our bedroom. my bathtub, tucked under a slight slope and surrounded by little shelves with essential oils and soaps and candles. i always dreamed of a bathtub in my bedroom, the perfect way to begin and end my day.
i slept in a 20 year old t-shirt last night. in fact i'm still wearing it as i write this. it's as soft as flannel now, worn and dreamy. this shirt is an embrace when i wear it, that makes me a little giddy and sad. reminding me of the years when university was behind me and real life was still years away. when responsibility was just a suggestion and i roamed and painted and dreamed. lisa gave me this shirt and covered it with words she'd written in block letters. not just words, but words that i loved. addresses of where i'd lived and where i would one day live. names of people i loved. names of artists i revered. names of my dogs. names of boys who i thought were men. lines of poetry.....lisa's, mine and our favorite poets. cities. and lisa's bright wit stringing names together so that several people shared one line.....bob dylan thomas hardy. over the years the writing has faded. i have gone over the letters with a sharpie many times, so there is slight shadow behind each word. the ghost of my youthful self watching me, taking every journal and sketchbook and mixed tape and reducing it all to this shirt. my favorite thing.
in theory, i love the grayness of november. it's monotone and indifferent and anti-climatic. a personality i embrace. i'm drawn to the subtle. but love to find the raging just beneath the surface. this year i've been too busy to find november until it's last few days.
when the waves in the harbour are no longer slapping on the boats, making them sway and tip and lean, that is the change of season for me. they were all out this afternoon when tom & i took edgar tripping around the harbour and along the stone walls of the prison. only the coast guard and the st. lawrence ll were still afloat. when all the boats are paralyzed on their perches and bandaged in tarps or shrink wrap, with no optimistic lone brothers bobbing in the november waves, it's time for winter to begin. it takes about 6 weeks to empty the entire harbour, folding each vessel into it's winter hold. the cycle of summer is ended for now and will start finding itself again in the spring when the boats are mobile.
empty white dreary and decrepit bathrooms. they speak to me somehow. chipped and rusty fixtures. a loneliness emanating from the sink. floating at the perfect height to lean on, be supported by. and yet repulsive. the most personal of fixtures, passing through generations. faucets that are stiff and unable to open. a green blotch of oxidized rust and a cracked mirror. such a human story.
i'm starting to get excited about thanksgiving. my favorite holiday. although i live in canada and feel very canadian, my american roots are strong when it comes to thanksgiving. my very earliest memories of family gatherings would be thanksgiving in philadelphia, washington d.c. or baltimore. road trips in the car. huge tables piled with food and lined with extended family. uncles watching football. and i remember acquiring my first hand-me-down barbie from a cousin at thanksgiving. so i started out swamped with the warmth and love of thanksgiving.
but there is still no holiday i embrace like i do thanksgiving. something about a mid-week holiday in november is just lovely. we always take the day off. we have dinner with my parents and watch football with a big fire in the fireplace. and i think the fact that we are celebrating in a way that few of our canadian friends and neighbors celebrate, means there is no stress. we have a small family dinner with my parents but we aren't trying to fit in all the extended family and in-laws. it's easy and simple. and i'm full of holiday bliss.
i love to wander through houses that are ready to be tweeked back to their original beauty. we explore basements, musty and cobwebby. and kitchens that worked hard for years, feeding families and hosting holidays. the bathrooms are the most difficult for me because what others find ugly and ready to be replaced, i love. i love the pink and green tiles from the 60s. sometimes there is black tile trim that makes it even more lovely to me. it feels classic and solid and i always want it to survive. i haven't yet been forced to tear out one of those bathrooms. but i'm sure if we keep doing this, the day will come. it's hard to take a house that has embraced a family for decades and sentence it to be torn apart. i'm very careful to try to listen to the house. make things fresh and bright but not change the entire aesthetic. i am anxious to find our next house.
in my paper room, cutting and gluing and organizing beautiful old images is what i think i do best. don't get me wrong....i love building quilts .... feeling the cottons and being saturated in the dazzling colors and patterns. and i can spend days, weeks even, putting them together and feeling confident and proud of what i'm making, sewing and cutting and piling the patterned fabrics together. but i think when i'm with the paper the best comes out of me. the images that weave themselves onto the panels are such fine and delicate creatures that i wonder at their details like the wonder of a newborn's translucent fingernails. they come to the surface as if they have risen from the depths of an underwater cave. mysterious, gradually coming into focus. and they seem to breathe. stare at me and convince me they are not simply a flat image.
this paper work is what my paintings have progressed to. and i hope that i don't allow these creatures to be choked and flattened and buried as my painting has been. i need these paper sylphs. i think they are my destiny.
november. rain blurred windows and edgar refusing to leave the porch. with our canopy gone, it makes the walk between houses during the rain, even rainier. edgar likes to use the canopy to do his business without getting wet during summer rains and i just love the luxury of it. but now, the leaves are gone and we are open to the sky. bare branches. no coverage. the branches are beautiful. wet bark gray silhouettes against the sky.
i sewed all day. surrounded with colorful fabrics, quilts and napkins and aprons. meagan gave me steamed milk for my tea at lunch. and of course, i watched the waltons. more of the same tomorrow. i love the routine of sewing that has happened the past few weeks. it is my grandmother's 105th birthday today. always a day i notice and remember. i think of her so often, and when i sew it seems she's with me. i miss her alot and feel so fortunate to have spent so much time with her.
sewing all day gives my mind a little quiet. and all the intricate word images that swim in there begin to sort themselves out. i have collections in my brain, much like the collections that i gather around me everywhere. piles of words and ideas and images and details that when organized may fold into the story that winds around my bones and whispers it's fragmented visions into the clatter of the sewing machine. the story is brewing. i watch it now wondering if all the blank parts will find their fat and give me their secrets. and wonder if i'll ever find the discipline and the courage to give the words away. so as the story thickens i've been considering bringing parts of it to the blog. i don't know how, but maybe i can give it a chance here, a pound at a time.
i think it was 36 years ago that i found this beautifully bleached, smooth, almost stone-like piece of bone. we had just moved to the farm and i was exploring by making forts in the century old barns and wandering through the grassy fields. we moved in late spring so i was able to forge my friendship with the property as it came alive. i was 7 and must have already had the urge to find lovely little items that could stay with me and be part of my story. i remember recognizing that this must be a vertabra and being proud of my ability to recognize a piece of skeleton. i also loved the smoothness and the clean curves. my father thought it could have been a fox or even a wolf. for the soundtrack of my childhood was the howl of wolves in the dusk as i was falling asleep. i've never tried to find out what species this piece of bone belonged to. but i've always kept it with me. and as i grew into an adult i realized that this creature was probably very close in age to me. a piece of my mortality that i can hold in my hand.
do you remember the feeling of sitting cross-legged on the floor figuring out the intricacies of a puzzle? concentrating and squirming and biting your lip. i love seeing children work at puzzles. they exude a positive happy confidence. puzzles are never frightening. not even the difficult ones. puzzles inspire me.
a magnificent november saturday. and i'm exhausted. it's been a week of studio sewing. and the men in my life doing out-door chores. tom did our yard and the storm windows while my dad did the studio gardens. and i'm still trying to get used to the emptiness around me. everything is bare. only a few dead and wrinkled leaves are on any of the trees. the light is stark and strong with little to filter and soften it. and i'd love to sleep for a few hours right now. i find i take fewer photos in november than any other month. and the aesthetic is so lovely. i may need longer to get used to winter. i don't like coats. or boots.....shoes for that matter. or even socks. so. although the coziness of winter can win me over, the actual need for outerwear is inhibiting. i have ragged old coats from college that i throw on and i mostly wear crocs even in snow. but i'm planning to remedy that this year.....coats and boots and mittens and lots of walks that i enjoy.
it's edgar's birthday. every year we try to make it a nice day for him. special in a doggy kind of way. walks and treats and rubs and more treats. today edgar played in the yard while tom put on the storm windows. and my dad was at the studio cleaning the gardens.....all the glorious weeds and vines gone. but i've learned that they will grow back in the spring. i just hate the naked gardens and i think he took away more this fall than he did last year. so edgar came in from the yard to comfort me. i made christmas ornaments and napkins and a quilt.
i think it was paris that taught me all the big lessons of my life. paris taught me how to be still in my soul and find happiness in the quiet. to find the simple vignettes that create a personal aesthetic. fueling and calming. it was in paris that i began to notice and appreciate the moments that brought a new layer of meaning and, dare i say, 'je ne sais quoi' to my frazzled youthful existence. i was content to wander unknown streets for hours upon hours. blindly allow the metro to deposit me in strange and unknown parts of the city just to explore. find churches and graves that were attached to my artistic and intellectual idols. sit and drink espresso and scribble in my journal, all without the restless american buzz i'd felt up to that point. recognizing that i didn't always need somewhere to go or someone to be with or something to do. i think i was programmed early to enjoy the internally layered and nuanced life, but paris spread it before me. we met at just the right moment, paris and i.
it's been a wonderful morning. curled up with a cup of tea and lemon yogurt, reading proust. watching the sky fill with light, filtered through the half naked trees. floyd licking the yogurt bowl clean, but getting his extra long white whiskers covered with yogurt and watching him figure out how to clean himself. it's a little magical that an extra hour has simply materialized in my day. tom is still sleeping. i'd like to be vacuuming, to get that chore done for the day. but i'm trying to stay quiet so he'll get an extra hour of sleep. i emptied the dishwasher from last night and found enough pots and pans and bowls to fill it up again. so, dishwasher music is coming from the kitchen. edgar is galloping around the yard, pounding across the porch and into the leaf covered lawns with a little more energy than usual.
i'm putting on the kettle for one more cup of tea and a few more pages of proust until tom is awake. then i'll vacuum and fill my bath and later, spend the afternoon watching football and building quilts.
this evening i started my winter journey. since the time i was searching for my own direction in my mid-twenties i've wanted to read proust. i was intrigued with him. and i knew that the people who's lives i read about and obsessed on had also been intrigued with him. i outgrew many of those personalities, but not my distant interest in marcel proust. he is pointedly french. and his work circles in and around the parisian and provincial life. gallic. and since my life in france, so many years ago, i feel that connection profoundly. i've started reading swann's way many times. but a few weeks ago for my birthday, tom gave me the entire set of volumes.....everything together waiting for me to become part of them. the past weeks have been so busy with the house, i've wanted to settle in during the rainy evenings and start reading....but i waited until tonight. the house is listed, and i now feel free to start this new project. i'm hoping to read 25 pages a day and while the winter away with proust. i'll let you know how it goes. À la recherche du temps perdu.
i slept in this morning. edgar had called for me at 4 am, as he is known to do.....sometimes the quilt has been kicked off and he's cold. or one of the cats has planted herself firmly atop him and refuses to move, making him feel trapped and unable to move either. and, yes, this is a dog i'm talking about, not a child. this morning his needs were two-fold....he needed a bathroom break in the yard, and one of the pillows was not to his liking. so when i crawled back into bed, the gloomy rainy morning kept me slumbering until 8.30. a slow start this morning. the rain and heavy skies reinforced the knowledge that we are deep into fall and well on our way to winter. the clocks change this weekend. and i've heard christmas songs in the shops.
tomorrow our house is listed and i will go back to more constant and hopefully, uninterrupted, studio time.
last week i spoke of the planned murder mystery we were hosting at our house in honor of halloween. it was a hit. 13 of us dressed to the nines. carrying our roles out perfectly. we had three murders. a card shark. a baroness. an inspector. a madame. a mafioso. a houseful of mayhem. everyone was beautiful. and afterwards we lost our internet connection. i don't know why. but it's been out for days and i have felt a little stranded. we worked at the house, so it's been a busy week. we'll have it listed this week, so it's been productive. but i've lost my blog momentum ......... momentarily. it will be back, now that we're connected again.
last night naomi asked me why i'm always taking pictures. i told her that it was just something i had to do. and that although it's annoying, in the end it's a good thing. sometimes there is a moment so lovely that i find in my pictures that it makes the whole evening a new experience. i don't have the patience or desire to take a photo and turn it into something 'better' with photoshop or some editing program. to begin with, i don't know how. i can crop. and i can change to black and white. but anything beyond that is beyond me. but my camera is an extension of me. since my 16th birthday, standing at the counter of the camera shop with my dad, choosing my first nikon. an fe2, which is probably still my favorite camera. and tons of b&w film. there were cameras before that, but that was the moment 'it' started. i remember the feeling, knowing there was no going back, the journey had begun. i see us choosing that camera and i feel the rush of excitement and the weight of it, and the cold metal warming and molding into my hand like it was just this past birthday instead of 28 years ago.
you probably know how much i love my laundry to dry on the line in the sun and the wind. and today may have been the last day this year. i washed our sheets and the duvet cover and forgot they were in the washer. i was at the studio sewing away, when i realized i had clothes to go on the line. i thought it may be too late in the day, but i pinned them up anyway. the sun was strong and the wind was bright and they dried quickly. i always have to press my face into everything as i'm taking it off the line....the crisp cotton and the scent of wind from the lake is unbearably lovely. i hope we get a few more days this year for laundry to dance on my clothesline, but if this is the last one, it was gorgeous.
when the students are here, our little city has approx 145,000 people milling through it's streets and shops and restaurants and hospitals. it's not a small town in the sense that everyone knows everyone, but sometimes it seems to be. in our town i believe the six degrees of seperation theory can be cut in half. i prefer being in the studio for the greater part of my days. and walking edgar along the lake. but there is alot of shopping and errand-running necessary to keep our house flipping ventures on track. so i'm out and about more that i may want to be. (my phone just rang...at this very point, with a request to go buy more grout......so it will be another 1/2 hour before i can get sewing). i noticed yesterday that i'm never in a store that i don't see a familiar face. there is always someone i know from somewhere.....not necessarily to speak to, but simply to recognize. sometimes i'm annoyed by that, but more often, there's a nice internal smile that accompanies the recognition. i like being surrounded by familiarity.
i don't like big groups. gatherings where the intention is to mingle with a drink and meet new people. i don't like it. i guess i've never overcome my childhood shyness. although few would consider me shy......it is an immediate reaction to a large group of people i don't know. and even if i know half of them, i'm still anaesthesized with bashfulness. i rarely attend an event if i only know one or two people. so i meet people in a singular way. maybe i'm able to focus and identify what i like or dislike about them easier. but, regardless, i don't like parties. with the exception of our neighborhood gatherings.
we are filling the house with neighbors on the weekend, hosting a murder mystery evening. a 1920's speakeasy with death and mayhem. a party that i can appreciate. we are always aware of how lucky we are to have an abundance of neighbors we love. who we can always count on and enjoy. and this weekend, we'll kill each other off. happy halloween!!!!
it was a true leaf-raking day yesterday. the air was just cool enough for a sweater or a comfy down vest, with bright sun to top it off. the leaves dry and crispy and light enough to move and float with ease. but of course i wasn't one of those taking advantage of the weather and getting this chore done. but as i ran my long list of errands i kept seeing people in their yards, piling leaves. the sounds and the scents of autumn all come together in a pile of leaves. i felt both envious and guilty seeing people enjoying the day and getting their yard ready for winter. i may get to it this week......
days have been full this week. busy and fun and very full. and this morning i'll take my tea and my dog and wander with the rocks beside the lake. the light is curving in it's magnificent october way, while edgar finishes his breakfast. and i'm spending a few minutes indulging the quiet while the kettle comes to a boil. a simple slow morning. although my mind will overflow with things that must be done soon enough, the next half hour will be mine.
it was a special evening tonight. it's always a little special when i choose red lipstick. it's really the only thing i do differently that might distinguish my appearance as special at all. but tonight we saw steve earle, sitting in the second row while he picked and tuned and tapped and sang and made the most beautiful music. maybe it was the darkness, but i was smearing tears off my cheeks all night. a pure acoustic genius of a night. the mandolin was unbearably beautiful. the harmonica equally lovely. and his voice, true and raw. i've been intrigued with him since the late eighties. but the past few years, i've been more drawn to him. the perfect energy of song to play loud in the studio without it distorting into a shuffle of blurred sound. this music sustains me while i work. and tonight just made me love it more.
we walked among the grounded boats again today. i took my camera. and i felt my gypsy blood start to boil a little. the urge to make a little nest in a boat surrounded by blue. if i travel or feel the tickle to move and explore, i need to create a little capsule that surrounds me with home. it's part of the appeal. like a gypsy wagon. or a boat. the waves & the wind & the stars. and movement. it appears my great-grandfather's blood is strong in me.
after yesterday's lazy day (which turned out to be what i needed since i'm not even a little sick now) today has been busy and beautiful. the leaves are crackling underfoot. edgar & i walked along the harbour and found the ducks. in the gaggle of ducks in our harbour, there are 2 huge, white domestic ducks with bright orange beaks. they've been here a couple of years and they seem to fit in perfectly with the wild ducks.....who aren't so wild. they aren't afraid of edgar and are here all winter long, they refuse to migrate. and today the sun was bright and warm while we fed them and watched the boats coming out. it's always a little sad to see the boats on the crane, still and stiff and dry. but it's part of the autumn routine and is lovely in it's own way. it was the sort of day that autumn chores are less taxing. the sort of day that we should have put our storm windows on....but we're holding out for a few more warm sunny days of windows open wide with the smells of fall.
i was able to clean the house while watching football. and go buy some fabric.....and get an hour or so of studio time in. i took this photo walking back home across the yard from the studio where i was cutting squares for a quilt and watching the waltons. (i'm not sure if i've shared my obsession with the walton's yet). that will be a story for another time.
i am lying on the couch today trying hard not to get sick. i have that sinus-y headache and scratchy throat that lets the sickness in. tom is playing the guitar and sun is streaming through the tall living room windows. i'm reading my friend's manuscript that she shared with me. and am simply put.....having a lazy day. there is a cat curled on my feet and i'm enjoying the manuscript while tom sings. and tennis is in the background on tv (shanghai masters series). this is as close to perfect as it gets. except for the sick part....but all the nice parts might cancel out the sick part.
last night we fell asleep to the sound of the rain hitting the roof outside our window. it's been a gray couple of days. the rain and chill of autumn has crept up on us. we have finally turned on the furnace.....the chill is a little more than the fireplace will erase in the evenings. i remember as a child my little grandmother making me strings of little attached paper dolls to play with on a dull and rainy day. i still love making these little charmers from fabulous old papers and using them in my collage or journal making.
and today looks like it will be another one of those days that begs for a cup of tea, a quilt and an engaging book. my wonderful friend, mark sinnett, won the toronto book award last night for his fabulous novel, the carnivore. if you're looking for an amazing book for this rainy weekend, this is my pick. i'm planning to re-read it this weekend.
in october the air is aglow. there is a pink sparkle in the light, angled so it dances lower and appears to leave little fires wherever it touches. it seems that even without the raging colour in the trees, the glow would still bounce around october and make me gasp.
we went for a drive on the weekend and found a charming little market. we were driving along the lake and noticed a park spotted with colourful canopies and sunshades. couples and children and dogs wandering across the grass making small purchases. just a handful of stalls. but we managed to find freshly made focaccia, gluten-free organic granola, spiced date loaf, all sorts of locally grown fruit and veggies, organic and free-range meats, cheese, eggs, chutneys, jams, pesto, spanakopita, moussaka, pickles.......and i saved the best for last. dilled carrots. crunchy delicious carrots canned in dill pickle brine. we bought a jar, tasted them and went back for the last jar. i love this market.
we live in a neighborhood that i am thankful for everyday. we regularly share amazing moments with our neighbors. tonight was one of those times. krista and rudy organized a wonderful autumn celebration for canadian thanksgiving. we gathered at their place, everyone arriving laden with bowls of food and bottles of wine. 2 organic turkeys.....so the scent of roasting turkey was drifting down the street all afternoon. and a long table heavy with food. laughter and eating and wine. children being coerced to eat enough of whatever item they didn't want to eat. dogs waiting for the sloppy eaters to let something fall. and then someone suggested some fresh air before bringing out the pies. so all of us sauntered down to the lake, while the children raced. i found a pocketful of beach glass. we climbed on the rocks.
and then wandered back home to pumpkin pie, apple pie and butter tarts. and a little more wine. the children were begging for tickles. and attention of any kind, really. we found intriguing conversations about our different but similar fundamentalist christian childhoods. and then it was time to gather our bowls and walk across the street to our homes with a goodie bag of turkey and pie to bring home.
we are lucky to share our lives and our homes with the wonderful people we call neighbors. happy thanksgiving.
soooo, a long time ago it was my tenth birthday. and i thought it was pretty cool that i was turning 10 on the 10th day of the 10th month. my father pointed it out to me. but then he added that someday it would be the 10th day of the 10th month of the 10th year of the next century. and from then on this has been the birthday i've looked forward to. it didn't seem possible as a 10 year old that this day would ever come. but here it is......and there hasn't been a day quite as numerically lined up since 09-09-1809. and the next one won't be for a couple hundred years: 11-11-2211. all i really wanted was to wake up in a sun-drenched room under a new duvet and a fresh white cotton duvet cover. we've been so busy with the house renovation that our bedroom has been overlooked, with too much unfolded laundry and dust. so with a couple hours of folding and organizing, i was able to go to bed and wake up in our room exactly as i like it. that was all i wanted. (that, and the gray gothic kitchen cupboard i can't stop thinking about for my kitchen). and tom gave me a winter's worth of reading with all 6 volumes of proust's 'in search of lost time'.
it's a gorgeous day and we are off to enjoy it. my morning has been fabulous, topped off with all kinds of wonderful wishes from my facebook friends. thank you so much.
sifting through pebbles to find softened and dull, tumbled pieces of glass is my favorite way to relax. sitting at the very edge of the lake with the waves continually moving the pebbles and soaking my legs, deafened by the sound of the water and focussed like a hawk on the beach, is my perfect escape. i've carried home countless buckets of glass. glass that could be hundreds of years old. they are so lovely and each one is entirely it's own. i store them in mason jars piled in my front porch, corners of the living room, in the bookshelves, at the studio......anywhere i can stash a few jars. i used to catalog them by date, enclosing a note in the jar with the date and what the day had been like. but what i really want to do is gather the glass, and although i cataloged for years, that extra step became bothersome. i can usually sit by the edge of the lake well into october without being too cold. and the last few days have been like summer so it's perfect. but i remember gathering glass on new year's day once.....the lake must have stayed open that year. and in winter when i crave the touch of the glass and it's music, i pile glass on the dining room table or in a big basin and run my hands through it, finding special little pieces. visual and tactile.
last night hockey season started. the montreal vs toronto game. tom & i cheering for opposite outcomes. hockey is a culture of it's own in canada. it's something that unites and divides and illicits a passion that surpasses politics. most of us chose our favorite team before we can remember why. in school we collected and traded tattered hockey cards as if they were gold bars. great bargaining lessons were learned at lunchtime, huddled in a group around a certain card, angling to make it yours. we played odd, made up games throwing cards against the wall to win all the cards in the game. and i have no idea whatever happened to my treasured guy lafleur card from grade 5. i don't love hockey like tom loves hockey, but i love hockey. and i'm glad we have a winterload of it to look forward to.
we have a cat named crabapple. but we really only call her crabby. and she's senile. she's about 15 years old and has lived with us for 10. but she has lost her mind. she started out a little odd. but quirky fits perfectly in our home. the first summer she lived with us i found a pair of flipflops sitting at our back door as if someone had just stepped out of them. and soon realized they had been a gift from crabby. she would carry all kinds of pilfered items from neighboring yards and bring them to the kitchen door. for years it was an embarrassment because she stole all day, every day. hats, pairs of shoes, underwear, bathing suits, socks, towels, clothing of all types, toys, dolls, and gloves.....hundreds of gloves. gardening gloves, work gloves, winter gloves. she brought home childrens homework, drawings, crafts, even a diary. i will always regret that i didn't photograph every item. it would have been an unbelievable collection. hundreds of items. a few years ago she stopped bringing actual items and concentrated solely on garbage and newspapers and scraps of paper...,20 -30 pieces in a single day. she would walk down the sidewalk with her treasure in her mouth, screaming loudly. people throughout the neighborhood knew her and people always asked about 'the thief'.
but this summer our yard wasn't littered with garbage. and mid-summer we noticed that crabby hadn't been around for a couple of days. we went to the humane society and after several weeks we were sure she had gone away to die. and then, near the end of the summer, edgar and i were coming home from our walk and he pulled me up the street that runs directly behind our street. walking down the sidewalk toward us was a cat with a familiar bow-legged shuffle. crabby had decided to move to a group of yards and the people who occupied them. i carried her home, sobbing with relief that she was alive. but when we approached the house she growled and screamed and fought. i got her inside and as soon as she could she snuck out and was gone for a week or more......when neighbors brought her home. this little dance went on for about a month.
she's with us now, but screams and growls when we go near her......not always. sometimes she climbs into my lap, or snuggles near my head on the couch, begging for attention and love. but it will inevitably end with a growl and a hiss. but she only threatens to lash out. she doesn't ever follow through with it. she is old and confused and......senile. but i'm glad to have her safely with us again.
i love going to the drive-in. we try to go once during the summer. there's a drive-in near our cottage in the middle of fields that are full of deer and skies with floating hawks. and a long concrete block concession stand where they sell nachos, popcorn, cotton candy and mosquito coils. it never matters what movie is playing.....the fun is packing the truck with chairs and quilts and a contraband cooler. and watching the sky grow dark around the big old out of place rickety screen. the images seem bigger and more magical out in the open than they do in a packed theatre in the city. i had never been to a drive-in until a few years ago. but when i was a child i remember driving past drive-ins and seeing the huge faces rising up out of nowhere. they were like paintings. portraits that moved, but silently. the image of a face, either elizabeth taylor or natalie wood.....i'm not sure which, floating at an angle above a road is sealed in my memory.
so, i'm thinking, october at the drive-in would be spectacular. a few more blankets and a thermos instead of a cooler.....but i'm off to hunt down a drive-in that is still open for this weekend.
this is my bag. the bag i've lugged around for 23 years. it has been with me, full of books and cameras and journals......it's my life line. i still have little things tucked in the zippered pockets from places we've been. sugar cube paper from paris. a tiny yugoslavian flag from when it was still yugoslavia. a long piece of my own hair wrapped in colored thread and beads from a week at the shore. there's a little wrapped chocolate from cafe de flore where i would go to channel simone de beauvoir. but it's age is beginning to become an issue. the straps are beginning to tear at the seams and some of the leather is cracking and tearing as well. i'm afraid to carry my camera and books in it now, they're just too heavy. i've been being careful with it for a while but i'm happiest when i have the old torn and cracked bag slung over my shoulder heading out for a little adventure.
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