Tuesday, July 1, 2014

it's summer now.  a constant warm sweetness in the air.  it's not just a rush of warm heavy air that blows past in a few hours.  it's what i expect now.   i eat a bowl of blackberries for my dinner,  my feet are rough and dirty.  the light sits low and warm until almost 9 o clock.   the sea gulls fly over while i'm sitting on the porch with a limeade and the white of their underbelly glows orange.  the heat sits like a drooly blur above the lake.  the yard is fluffed and green around the edges.  private and cool.  there is always sound.  birds and squirrels and water and voices and the rustle of leaves.

we have hired a painter and his ladders are sitting in the driveway, waiting for the work to start.  i mixed up colors tonight, little pots of paint to find the perfect gray  for the wood that sits along the edges of the stone i love so much.  along the roof.  the windows.  the eaves.  the trim of the little cedar shingled front porch.  i have made the color and i love it.  like a smudge of weathered wood.  i know we need to paint to protect the wood.  but i still want the house to look like a crackly, weather beaten little cottage, worn and cozy.  so the color is an old and faded color, and i'll leave the crooked little door to the front porch peeling and cracked.

it's almost 9 pm. it's not quite twilight.  but the gloaming has begun.  tomorrow we'll wake up in july, that month of freedom and skin.  it is completely summer now.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

6.43 this morning.  The sun finds a narrow opportunity to reach directly into my face through the porch covered east window in my little library.  The sun lights me in the warmest gentlest blinding way for ten minutes.  Stella on my lap purring and loving the glare.  I enjoyed it fully until it moved past me.  I love the early morning day.  

We are just starting our week, after a wonderful long weekend, welcoming the ease of summer.  We took ezra to the farm for a little hike.  We had a campfire with friends.  We hung loads of laundry on the line to dry in the sun and wind.  We freshened up the house.   The luxury of days to putter at home without being torn by the need to be at the studio filling orders and building inventory.  There was, however, a wrinkle of worry as my best friend from high school spent the weekend in hospital awaiting a surgical procedure today.  I am eager for her to be home and well.  
So we're slipping into the week refreshed and looking forward to the goodness it will bring. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

All day as I work words float through my head.  I think of sentences that I love.  And then I forget them.  Sometimes a fragment of a story teases me.  I rearrange ideas and descriptions.  Or I listen to podcasts of literature keeping my mind engaged without stopping the work of my hands and my eyes.  Sometimes I wonder if I'd be happier knitting words together in loops of story poetry.  It seems like a free and light pursuit.  I would need silence.  And a computer.  And my mind that absorbs and ferments all that it encounters.  Certainly when compared to the weightiness of the quilts, it seems so simple.  For I am overwhelmed with the accoutrements of what I do, heavy on my chest like a heart attack.  I have rooms of fabric, scraps that are endlessly disorganized, heavy sewing machines....one that takes up an entire room,  and then more fabric.  Tons of fabric.  It's how I make quilts.  The weight is important.  It is the warmth.  It is the charm.  It is the beauty.  But the fantasy of freedom and weightlessness surfaces often.  Yet I think I'd float away, too much stillness, waiting for the words. Too much stillness. So I sew.  Keeping the work a constant flow of materials and collections and treasures for my eyes to rest on, to sink my hands into, to build and cut and wrap up in.    

And so I'll sleep as the moon smiles in on me, through the branches of my beautiful tree, through the open curtain and the open window.   

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tom had all the windows open today.   Bringing the summer in.  And when I was walking up the stairs in the dark tonight, I was surrounded in it. Warm and sweet, I was breathing it in.  The scent of line dried sheets was spilling out of the bedrooms, into the hall as I climbed the stairs.  And there was just the gentlest touch of humidity, just enough to announce a summery feeling.  A breeze moving the bedroom curtain, an elixir of lake and grass, budding trees and magnolia & tulip blossoms.  

I tried to regain a little order in the studio today.  Folding mountains of fabric.  Washing new fabric.  Starting a couple of new quilts.  Working with the doors open and light pouring in.  The whole while, listening to moby dick.    I took a break with ezra to sit in the sun this afternoon, eating goats milk ice cream (organic and delicious).  I love when I have worked a long full day, and it feels like a luxury.   Aaaah, summer! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

it has been one of those perfect gloomy days.  rainy and windy and not a bit of brightness in the sky,  but the studio was warm and busy and full of the hum of the sewing machine, the steamy rush of the iron.  and i turned a mountain of squares into 84 colourful, double-sided and double seamed napkins.  they aren't quite finished, but they're well on their way.  i could have stayed at the studio longer, but i wanted to come home and make crackers for our dinner. 
when i was little, my grandmother lived with us.  and it seemed like she never stopped bustling around the kitchen.  she loved to invent new and oddly healthy dishes from leftovers and her strange health food store ingredients.  she baked bread in v8 cans, so the sandwiches i took to school were often round.  and she always made delicious crackers.  
lately i've been experimenting with making crackers from organic and/or gluten free flours.  and i think of my little gramma's knuckley hands every time i'm pressing the dough into the bottom of the pan.  i'm sure i use more oil and salt and flavorful herbs than she did.  tonight was brown rice flour and spelt flour, garlic olive oil, sea salt and greek seasoning.  topped with dill.  and some wonderfully garlic-y fresh guacamole.  my version of my little gramma's crackers.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

lately i've been driving out to the farm to take ezra for romps through the spring fields.  the farm is my parents farm.  and my childhood home.  for forty years it's been the background, the soft cushion, to my life.  and this spring,  the lake isn't pulling me out for walks, like the farm is.  ezra loves the endless fields and the ridge of giant evergreen trees.  the swampy quarry that is now guarded with overgrown thorny bushes.  the 200 year old barns.  the apple orchard tucked to the east of the house, where the deer always appear from.  the west fields that twist and turn along with tree dividers and ancient rail fences.  ezra bounds along after exciting scents and i'm reminded of countless childhood adventures.  like driving the family jeep through the fields and the long driveway when i was but 8 years old.  choosing just the right time to leap from my galloping horse without being trampled after the saddle loosened and i was dangling under his belly at 11.  and the tamer memories of picking wild strawberries and catching snakes and raising a little nest of baby rabbits after their mother was killed.  trudging up the long 1/4 mile driveway to catch the school bus on winter mornings.  the smell of sweet dusty hay.  
so we tramp through the fields, ezra and i and sometimes tom.  the perfect destination walk.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ellsworth snuck through Tom's legs last night as he was taking Ezra outside before bed.  Our big clumsy cat, out into the night.  I always worry when he's out all night, so this morning,  when I faintly heard his cry above the crush of pre-dawn birdsong, I slipped downstairs to find him.  He'd pushed his way into the front porch and was peeking in the front door, eager to be let in for breakfast and a soft spot to sleep away the morning.  5.30 a.m. in late April is a dynamic hour.  The sounds of birds and squirrels are quite overpowering in the stillness.  There is a rush of energy.  So I didn't head back up to bed.  I never do, really.  I love the early hours, looking forward to the flow of the day.
The studio has been a steady pull lately.  No shortage of projects to fly between.   I like that.  Preparing for a couple of spring shows.  Working on custom pieces.  And in the swirl of work comes new ideas and fresh perspectives on what I do.  Always moving forward.  I've been making single fabric quilts lately.  Two beautiful fabrics, quilted with cotton batting.  They are lightweight and simple with  an air of ease.  Years ago Tom's mother gave us a quilt, hand stitched by his great-great-grandmother.  Yet this quilt is not pieces and patches of scraps of cotton stitched into a whole.  It is two whole pieces of fabric, hand quilted together early in the last century, to make a blanket.   There is an easy simplicity about this quilt that always catches my eye and my heart.  And so I've been setting aside my favorite pieces of fabric to make similar blankets.  And I love them.  I have a few in the shop, and more on the way.   

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

the sun swept through the studio today, whipping up little glittery storms of dust and lint.  it was a lovely day.  i worked on a quilt top that is full of the sunniness.  and it's chock full of gingham which is always steeped in sun for me.  gingham means picnics and lemonade.  and cool grass creating that tangled little relief sculpture on the palm of your hand from leaning back and gazing at the day.  that is what this quilt is full of.  
around lunchtime my parents and my aunt brought me a roll of cotton batting for my quilts.  they had been on a little morning trip across the border, across the bridges, across the st. lawrence and back again.  all to pick up my cotton quilting batting and deliver it to me.  they are just awesome like that.  my dad and my aunt settled onto the couch with ezra and my mother curled in a patch of sun like a cat, reading 'tess of the d'urbervilles'.  i worked away sewing pieces of my quilt together.  
we had sushi for lunch.  a first for my 85 year old aunt.  she loved it, although she didn't attempt chopsticks.   it was my third time this week having sushi for lunch.  (and, yes, it's wednesday.  i'm in a bit of a sushi phase right now)  
a few weeks ago i found an old mini tape recorder, the sort used for dictation back in the day.  surprisingly the batteries hadn't corroded and when i pressed 'play' i discovered a 40 minute conversation i'd had with my grandfather when he was 99. (he lived to be a couple months shy of 105).  so after our sushi lunch, i dug out the little tape recorder and played the conversation for my parents and my aunt.  in the streams of sun.  with our full bellies.  snuggling with a warm contented dog.  we all marvelled at how much my grandfather remembered and what great stories he was telling and how nice to have it all on tape.  
so this is the background for today's quilt.  it is soaked in sun and happiness and love and family memories.  it's a good quilt.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

the sun is a low, west-slung sun.  6 pm. i'm at home.  tom is playing guitar.  stella is in front of the fire.  there is too much snow for march. and too much cold.  
i cleaned the studio last week.  changed it around a little and organized fabric and treasures. readying it for the coming season of work, i suppose.  it took a couple of days and when i was ready to work again, i just stood and looked around.  i had killed the chaos and chewed up a bit of the energy with it.  i couldn't find where to begin.  there were no tangled piles of fabric.  nothing half finished and flung over a chair.  for most of the day i was more than a little displaced.  eventually i sunk into auto-drive, nothing inspired or even fun, but the blank fog of work found me a direction.  and I've had a great week of work since then. 
i've begun to gaze at vintage quilts.  absorb them in a new way. they slip into me now and engage parts of me that i had allowed to drop into a darkened and forgotten place.  this week a quilt brought the painter to the surface again.  i do most things in a painterly way, for that is how i work, what i know, who i am. and the real painter comes up for air now and then too.  but this time i found myself lost in the motifs that at one time would drive me to fill wall sized canvas.  and from that tickle, the same spot that used to birth paintings, i made a quilt.  a quilt of crosses. i often see cross quilts.  but the motif, the shape, the idea hit me differently. i had to make a quilt that would dream along beside me as i fashioned it.  red and black crosses. strong and knightly.  yet soft and grandmotherly.  speaking in contrasts.  

so, i've broken through a self imposed barrier. i won't have this type of experience with every quilt i make, but it's worth something to know it's possible.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

sitting on the couch with ezra.  a little restless.  wishing i was at the studio, deep in the work.  it's not late.  but i have no energy for anything else.  the kitchen needs to be cleaned up. laundry needs to be folded.  our house has simply found it's way into a winter rut.  and i don't really give any thought to it.  i only have energy to twist my head around ways to turn fabric into blankets.  soft and irresistible blankets. and finding new ways to use the pieces that end up on the floor, one sweep from the garbage.  it's all my mind will get enthusiastic about now. 
but i'm not at the studio.  the snow and the darkness has become a barrier for me.  although it's just a few steps across the yard, it seems difficult.  and i can't force myself across it. so i wait until morning and i spend a quiet winter evening with my family.  a little restless.  and a little tired.  a bit like a bear awakening to spring.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

this photo is our empty icy harbour yesterday.  ezra and i walked all along it's edges, and at some spots the snow was past my knees.  yet i can feel spring sifting it's way through the layers of cold. i can feel the air beginning to shift.  the light is changing.  and there is a little restlessness in my fingers.  i am busy again.  a constant roll of making quilt tops, filling the shop with new quilts. sorting through new ideas.  and preparing for a small show that is happening march 1st right here in our little u-shaped village.  i don't like to leave my little circle of house and studio.  so the fact that this little show called 'she creates' takes place in the harbour, three doors down from me, makes it almost too perfect.  so, i work away, building new quilts, folding them in fat towers of colour, ready to send out into this new spring and their new homes.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

i've always prefered to eat with my hands.  i don't really love utensils.  although i don't mind chopsticks.  they seem to be finger extensions more than a fork or a spoon.  it feels like utensils create a disconnect from the food for me.  it puts me at a remove from choosing each piece that i take a bite of. utensils turn into little shovels for me.  but when i pick a piece of food with my fingers and pop it in my mouth, it seems i'm able to savor it more.   i like to sip soup from the bowl.  and pick up carrots individually be they raw or cooked.  i don't use dressing on my salads anymore because i love eating handfuls of baby greens.  last night a huge bowl of baby greens was my meal.  i tossed bits of bagel in olive oil and salt, and then fried them in a little more olive oil.  that was my dinner.  it almost feels like i'm sitting down with a big bowl of popcorn or chips.  but it's so much better that it's a salad.  it's becoming more and more often that i choose meals that allow me to savor them with my fingers.  and i'm eating more and more meals just with my fingers regardless.  now i really see the food i'm eating, feel it, and enjoy it!!  and i don't have to worry about my mother's scolding anymore.  well, not too much, anyway.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

when i come downstairs these wintry mornings, it's a simple little routine.  ezra heads outside first thing.  i put water on the stove to boil for tea. and i turn on the fire in the library.  this little stove sits in the corner, a constant welcoming smile with stella sprawled in front of it most of the time.  i keep two little clay pots that i made in college on the top grate.  they are filled with water to give a little moisture to the air.  a couple times a day i drop lemongrass essential oil into the water.  it freshens the air.  and i think it cleans the air too.  a little something to chase away the germiness of our closed in winter house.  
so my mornings have been fragrant of late.  mint tea and lemongrass.  and there has been sun.  the days are stretching, finally.  by 6 am the night has cracked and gray is spilling into the black night sky.  and by 8 am sun is flooding into the kitchen.  so i can feel the race into spring gaining speed.   but for now, i'll be bundling up to walk ezra through the harbour soon.  and coming home to stand beside the fire, warming my legs.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

trudging across the yard tonight, the snow was past my knees. ezra was eager to romp through the drifts and grab mouthfuls of fresh cold snow like ice cream in his mouth as he ran.   he loped along the path that tom shoveled for him on the weekend, although that path is filled in with snow again.  it circles to the back of the yard and around the crabapple tree.  and ezra shows his appreciation by keeping to it religiously when running around the yard, and stepping off of it to relieve himself.  
we are lazy this winter, like we are weighed down with the heaps of snow we can't escape.  we spend our evenings by the fire, watching netflix, reading, tom playing guitar.  but we're happy.  we giggle alot.  and don't seem to have the black cloud that usually hangs low over february.  and before we know it, the lake will be groaning itself open again.  and the crocuses will be coloring the dregs of the snow.  but for now we sleep like bears and drink tea and hot chocolate around the fire. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

i am lost in a muffled fugue while i work.  my days are  stacked hours of brilliant and magnificent monotony.   they are never the sort of disastrous drudgery to me that they may seem to anyone else.  and my studio grows more and more chaotic as i work.  it begins to bulge through the walls and into the rooms meant for less messy work.  but in reality, there is no work that isn't messy.  if it is fabric that i'm working with, the entire little house is an explosion of fabric and thread, color and design.   and if i'm working with paper there is a flutter of scraps and ink and glue throughout.  it just is.  every month or so, i try to organize and fold and put the garbage out.  but mostly, if i'm in my studio, i am there to work.  i walk in the door and i'm crushed with the need to be into it at once.  dragged into my own swirl of chaos.  and energy. and almost frantic activity.  when i apologize to visitors for the mess, it is half hearted at best.  and when i come home at night i cuddle with tom and ezra on the couch, weary, but a little jazzed up too.  we eat by the fire and find little worlds in our ipads to entertain us.  tonight i sat with pinterest and saw dozens and dozens of studios.  tidy and organized.  clean spaces.  or rooms of materials tightly and properly contained.  the work seems far away in those rooms. it seems more about the romance of it all then the chaos of work. it made me think of my methods, my work that is almost always on the brink of disaster.  and how i have very little say in it.  how it takes me by the throat and i love it fully.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

it's been 3 weeks since i last wrote, telling you of my friend susi's new diagnosis with metastatic cancer that her doctor's told her was untreatable.  it was a couple of weeks of feeling desperate and scared.  and trying to keep the fear away so that the energy could be positive and strong.  let me first say what amazing people are here in the little village of blogs we've created.  most of you whom i've never met in person, but i hope to one day.  i felt the kindness of your souls even before this, but with your generous gifts to susi's indiegogo campaign, i quickly became certain of it.  thank you!!!
with your help susi was able to get to germany!!! she has been with her daughter and her grandchildren and is now seeking the help of alternative sources of medical care, which is covered under the german health care system.  although she was dealing with terrible pain, and was worried about the prospect of the long flight, she was  and is full of the most powerful positive belief that she may still be able to fight this.  
and so, she is home, in germany, surrounded with her family's love and prayers and support.  and i wanted to thank you and update you on what you helped make possible.  
 these photos were taken during our last visit.  she had come by the studio a couple days before she left.  her pain had begun to ease and we had a wonderful visit. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

i have a friend named susi.  we met this fall, on a rainy november day. she had been at anwyn wool, the beautiful new wool studio on the corner.  and when she heard of my studio up the street, she came to see the quilts. let me explain, that she had had a very bad experience with a large dog about a year before.  when she came to the door, ezra leapt from the couch and ran barking to the door.  and despite her fear, she trusted me when i told her he just sounded mean and would be fine as soon as she was in the door.  she trusted me.  and the two of them were quickly friends.  and so were we.  there are times when you meet someone and talk for hours without even realizing it.  that's what we had. when she left it was almost dark on a rainy cold november night.  and she had 15 kilometres to cycle to get home. she insisted it was fine.  and emailed me when she got home. (thankfully her husband picked her up halfway home).
susi came back to the studio a few days later and bought a baby quilt to send to her new grandson in germany.  susi moved to canada 9 or 10 years ago.  and her oldest daughter had stayed in germany and had two young children that susi had never met.  the next time she came to the studio, her husband had been laid off from his job.  but he had a passion and talent for working with wood.  and he was making wooden knitting needles (the ones i wrote about a few posts ago).  i took a bundle of the needles to sell for her.  
things became more and more busy with christmas sales. we saw each other a few more times.  and stayed in touch with texts.  
this weekend i was cleaning the house.  i took a break to zone out on the computer, checking out facebook.  and i saw a randomly shared  link called 'susi's last wish'.  the spelling of her name was so distinct that i immediately was afraid.  the first line referred to her as a 49 year old woman.  we had spoken of our ages. i knew she was 49.  and then i opened the link and saw her photo.  and i started weeping.  it was her.  and january 5th she had found out that the cervical cancer she had had in 2012 had metasticized to her lymph nodes, liver and spleen.  and there was no further treatment for her.  
we spent the afternoon together yesterday.  she is in a lot of pain.   and finds it very difficult to see people devestated by her illness.  so she has kept it to herself as long as she can.  she is cheerful and strong and thankful.  she is such a remarkable woman.  she wants to see her grandshildren and her daughter in germany. and her doctor's say that if she's going to travel she has to do so in the next few weeks.  with her husband laid off, it's very difficult to come up with the money, especially when they have to go so quickly.  the link i saw on facebook is an indiegogo link which i'm linking here.
if you're interested in donating and don't want to do it online, i am happy to collect checks for her....we have a card with checks that i'm going to give them on friday.  if you can give, any amount will help.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

it's been a quite a holiday.  resting.  and reconnecting.  and togetherness.  a lot of togetherness.  i'm still not back to the stucio.  i'm working.  but just doing the sewing that i can do from home.  ezra and stella on the couch with me.  the fire adding warmth and pure coziness.  bbc period dramas on netflix.  i've needed this.   and the crazy weather sort of forced it upon us.  first there was ice.  then snow.  and then temperatures that with the wind chill factored in, hovered between -30 and -40 degrees.  icy sidewalks. streets that people were actually skating on.  the house banging and shaking in the night from the 'frostquakes' triggered by the drastic changes in temperature.  so we cozied into the library (my favorite room) and had a little winter holiday.  ezra had a few 'bambi' moments on the ice, but he really did well.  ellsworth is going a little stircrazy from being inside all the time.  but we've all found a great rhythm.  i started sewing again around New Years.  and i have the bones of 5 large throw quilt tops almost ready to move to the studio.  working at a luxurious pace and spending time with the ones i love.  it's been a marvelous start to the year.