Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Starry Nights and Feeling the Love


Where did the last three weeks go? Looking back, I can't remember the details, the millions of little things that had to get done... but sprinkled here and there were wonderful gatherings with friends that are so near and dear to me.

One sweet friend has this Love mug. Every time I go to her house for a cup of chai, I ask for the Love mug. I think it makes the tea taste better. I think it makes me feel better. I think that even if it is all in my imagination, I still get all the benefits.

Last night I spent the evening with three of my favourite people. We went to a Christmas magical wonderland of gardens and lights in the theme of the Twelve Days of Christmas. We rode the carousel and went ice skating under the stars while soft celtic Christmas carols played in the background. A sparkly silver ball hovered above us, sending swirling twirling globes of light all over the ice rink. It couldn't have been a more perfect night.

And now I can take a deep deep breath, and I can drop my shoulders and relax, knowing that the busy part is over. And as I make my way to my family tomorrow, everything is going to slow down... and get quiet. I look forward to doing a whole lot of nothing over the next two weeks.

Wishing all of you a most beautiful Christmas. I love you all, and I will come around to visit and send you a warm holiday hug. xoxoxo

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A History of Love






There is a wonderful old bookstore downtown that sells mostly used books. I especially love to go upstairs and wander along the creaky wooden floors through the many tall shelves, eyes and heart open to whatever quietly beckons my attention. All this place is missing is a resident cat.

There is one small shelf that contains really old books. Some of them have the most beautiful covers. Like this one. I had to have it... I'm known to judge books by their covers, and I really only bought this one because of the cover. I had no idea what was inside until I brought it home.

The very first page, the very first few lines brought a smile to my face...

It is the fairy forest old,
With lime-tree blossoms scented!
The moonshine had with its mystic light
My soul and sense enchanted.

Yes. I was hopelessly enchanted. This little gem is full of beautiful phrases. 
And that wasn't the only gift I found within its pages. In four different places, I found four leaf clovers, pressed within the pages oh so very long ago.

It makes me wonder who owned this book.  No doubt, she loved it.  Did she carry it with her everywhere? Did she lay in a field on a warm summer day, reading out loud the phrases that moved her, plucking clovers and tucking them into her favourite pages? Perhaps she was stowing away her good fortune for a less than perfect day. Was she in love? With one precious someone? With the world?

One clover was on a page containing this...

Immovable, unchanging,
The stars stand in the skies,
Upon each other gazing
With sad and loving eyes.

And it doesn't matter really, what page I turn to... each page is adorned with beautiful lyrics... this book of songs. I will devour it slowly. One page at a time. Perhaps there are other things hidden within these pages that I have yet to find.


ps.
If you would like to see the the critter I captured today in all her adorableness, head over here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Light Frosting




Brrrrrrrr.... it's cold out there! Unusually cold for the island. I'm no early bird, and by the time I wake up in the morning, any signs of overnight frost have already melted into oblivion. But not today.

I found a wee patch of frosted moss and mushrooms. Actually, the moss is what caught my eye.... the mushroom was a happy surprise.  A little gift from the winter faerie realm.

I am going skating this afternoon with some dear friends, which will be followed by a hot bowl of chilli and some chewy chocolatey brownies that just came out of the oven. The aromas floating around the room right now are intoxicating.

Frosty on the outside, warm and cosy on the inside... just the way I like it. November bliss.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping it Simple






I had the whole beach to myself today.  I guess not many people love the cool grey weather as much as I do. I feel badly for them.

It may have been a bit moody outside today, but it was a serene journey along the shoreline for my spirit... my mind was quiet. In fact, I hardly thought about anything at all. What a beautifully satisfying thing! I was deeply present with myself and my stretching landscape... looking for objects of oceanic beauty, listening to the silent spaces between the waves, feeling the odd raindrop plunk upon my head.

I felt nourished. And my creative muse came along to stomp in the waves with me as well... I had forgotten all about my lensbaby, and decided it would be a perfect tool to explore the beach with today. I love the interesting views through that lens... a little bit surreal and otherworldly.

And as it started to darken, I made my way home where I knew that a cup of sweet chai and a warm cinnamon twist was waiting for me.

It's the simplicity of days like this that allow me to thrive. I don't think I was ever meant to live a full, hectic busy life... I think if I did, I would quickly shrivel up like that leaf up there, and fall between the cracks. It's just not my style.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Monochromatically Thinking


Oh, November.... I didn't think it would ever happen, but you've managed to woo me.

It seems like a slate grey, dreary month sandwiched between two colourful, magical ones. Or at least, that is what November used to feel like. This year feels beautifully different. 

There is still a riot of colour outside. Fall came late to my neck of the woods. And so, I can still weave myself between the trees, watch the leaves fall ever so gracefully and pretend it is still my beloved October. I had a hard time letting go this year. So it goes with most things in my life... I get too attached. But, as much as I love to bundle myself in the warmth of all that colour as I do my morning mountain climb, I turn away from it when my camera is in my hands. For the first time in a very long time, I find myself accepting November just as is. 

I like the grey. I'm drawn to the pale pastel hues of an understated month. I am waiting for the sun to resign itself to the fog, so I can see the world in indistinct lines and soft shapes, and feel the hush of the earth as it prepares to sleep.

Stillness is what I crave. A little bit of down time before the holly jolly, making merry mayhem sets in. 
So, November, I stand with open arms to you... accepting your quiet gifts... sheepishly wishing I had been more grateful in years past.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Black Cat



A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.

She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's All Gone Pear Shaped



It is apple crisp time. I only make it in the fall. I only want to eat it in the fall, when the air is as crisp as that delectable sugary oat topping. I was given a bag of apples... a wonderful woman I know has two apple trees and a pear tree in her yard and this year she had more fruit than she knew what to do with. 

I happily brought them home and knew exactly what to do with them. I started peeling and chopping. Inside the bag was one lonely pear. So in a spontaneous act of culinary creativity (I don't cook, so bear with me) I decided to add a pear to my apple crisp.

And I probably won't do that again. It just doesn't taste the same. Actually, come to think of it, I should have known better. As much as I love the voluptuous shape of the pear, and I adore that sweet little english phrase *it's all gone pear shaped* ...  I'm not entirely smitten with them when it comes to eating them. 

Except for bosc pears. They look almost rotten from the outside, all brown and plain. But they have a most satisfying sugary crunch. And that's just it....they have to be crunchy. 
As I think about it, so do apples. Except when they get cooked up into a sweet gooey mess underneath a blanket of apple crisp topping. 

Unfortunately, this crisp did go a bit pear shaped. Pardon the pun.
Funny how I keep reaching for a spoon, though.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fernwood Adventures





No other season seems to signify change more than Autumn. Maybe it is because the changes are so bold in nature this time of year.  She's feeling kind of flirtatious, Mother Nature... and she wants to be noticed. As much as I love those brilliant hues that scream for my attention, I am drawn to the softness. The less flamboyant. The ones who whisper rather than shout.

I had a lovely afternoon with a new friend. We met through blogging, and now I had the pleasure of meeting her in person today. We sat in a cozy cafe, savoured a good cup of chai while listening to great tunes, watching interesting people come and go.... talking of life and adventure, embracing challenge and trusting the mysterious ways of the world. I would have been perfectly content to sit there for another hour or so, but our cameras were sitting impatiently on the table like restless children in need of some fresh air.

So we headed out to the funky, eclectic neighbourhood of Fernwood. Here you will find interesting old character houses painted every colour of the rainbow, community gardens and even little tomato gardens lining the sidewalks. The telephone poles are painted with flowers and butterflies, and real flowers are still spilling out of every nook and cranny... in October!

We grew quieter as we started watching the world through our lenses. Blissfully content as we happily snapped away. It was a perfect day. Clear skies, and crisp air (that strangely smelled like fennel...it was growing everywhere).

I did capture some bold fall colours too. But I will save them for another post... some future day when I need a little exuberance to brighten the rainy grey.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Coming Back to Center





The world is too full of beauty to dwell in sadness for too long.

There will be moments, I am sure, where I will surrender to whatever it is that hurts. There will be many of them ... I feel deeply. And I love that I do.

But today, I stepped out in nature.... to be present with it, to accept its peace offerings. The natural world truly is the greatest elixir for a weary soul.

Breathing deeply. Accepting what is.
No matter what, there is always beauty. Everywhere. I am open.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lifeboat


Why is change so damn hard?

Change represents the loss of some thing, in place of another thing. Well, what if that other thing isn't what you hoped for? What if you really felt you needed the original thing? Is that the life lesson? To let go of things you think you need and be open to what comes?

Maybe. But I don't feel like being optimistic or philosophical.

How do I let my loved ones go with well-being in my heart for them when my own well-being is suffering?

This chunk of rock in the middle of the ocean that I have chosen to call home... this place that feels so much like home...how can if feel so lonely now? How did this island become so isolating? Can it still be home when my family is so far? What is home? The place or the people?

I feel as though I am being left behind. If this loss feels so intense, why am I the only one that seems to be feeling it? Is it because I am not the one doing the leaving?

Is my anger justified?
How about my sense of betrayal?
How do I keep resentment from clouding my sense of things?

Why is fear overriding love?
How do I turn it all around?

It is as though I am floating in a little lifeboat... but the paddles have drifted away from me. Lost to an overwhelming current much beyond my control. Can I learn to trust the tides to bring me back to a safe place?

My safe place. Maybe it will no longer be so?

My tears, the same muted colour of the sea.... an entity that used to sustain me feels like a barrier now to those that I love.
Where do I go from here?

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Sea, She Calls to Me










I love to crush those little sea kelp bobbles under my feet. They make the most incredibly satisfying pop/crunch sound. I must have walked the beach a dozen times over the last three days, crushing every single one in my path.

I studied the sand and was amazed at all the stories it could tell. Man, beast and bird walked this beach before me and left their distinctive mark. Even the rolling waves left behind fine wavy lines along the hard packed wet sand.

The sun warmed my skin in the early morning hours, and the wind-swept fog fiercely blew in to add a bit of drama to the late day. The sun and fog seemed constantly at odds, yet they were so synchronistically beautiful in their unity.

After the stress of the weeks before, visiting my most favourite place on earth was a timely respite. I spent a lot of time on this beach thinking about what matters most in my life. How important connection is... whether it be to loved ones, or loved places, or cherished memories. I learned a long time ago that when I am really down, the one thing that brings me back is connection. I must connect to something ...anything that is meaningful.

And I must thank you all who connected with me last week and left such words of love and support as we waited for Ivy's test results. We now know that she will not need any further therapy. No chemo, no radiation.... in fact, she got to go home! And the prognosis is good. Tumours like this rarely return.

I am slowly making my way to each of you. Taking my time to truly catch up with you and see how you are doing this beautiful September. Fall is on her way, and I can't wait... my favourite season. I am ready to embrace the changes she brings.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bittersweet






We went to see my brother and his family.... my mom and I. It's becoming a bit of a yearly tradition, this road trip. This summer there was the sweet, delicious charm of my two year old niece Sarai. And her new baby sister Ivy. Little Ivy.... what a beautiful creature she is.

We ate berries and other goodies from the garden. We devoured fresh peach pie. We lingered the afternoons away in hammocks and wished upon fleeting comets as we slept under the stars. We drew on the sidewalk and made friends with imaginary dragons. I held sleeping Ivy in my arms and wrapped myself in the absolute perfection of her soft scent, quiet breath, her peacefulness.

Everything was beautiful.
I'm so glad in that brief space of time I didn't know what was to come. It was three days of ignorant bliss.  I took for granted how good things really were. Or did I? I remember being very acutely aware of how precious this time spent with my family was. How I would always remember exactly how Ivy felt as she slept in my arms, how I would laugh later at the funny things Sarai said. But despite my gratitude, I didn't realise then how fragile life can be, and how quickly things can change.

A couple of weeks later, the world would turn upside down. Last Friday, to be exact... we found out that our little Ivy had a tumour on her kidney. A very large and aggressive tumour. How does this happen? How does a mass the size of a grapefruit grow inside a tiny perfect brand new 7 week old body?

It has been a week of little sleep, agonizing waits... for scans, and test results... and today there was surgery.

And I have to say, after so much angst and worry, I feel as though I am floating off my chair as I type this. Those incredible doctors (magic-makers, really) were able to remove the entire tumour today, along with her kidney... but it was completely contained and hadn't spread to her other organs.

RELIEF.

We still need to wait for test results to see what kind of tumour it is and what steps will need to be taken next...

But. She's ok. She's going to be ok. And the world is slowing turning right side up again. And those beautiful stars will continue to shine. Any wishes I have now have already been fulfilled. What a generous universe.

I think Sarai has it all figured out. She celebrates life every day. You should see this girl dance....



video

Please go here if you would like to see more pictures of my two favourite sweet peas. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Saltspring Island








Hello, my friends. How is summer treating you so far? I know that it is luring me away from the computer and enticing me to go outside and play.

My friend and I spent part of the weekend on Saltspring Island, which is just a short ferry trip from Victoria. It is an eclectic little island brimming with artisans and creatives of all types, and every Saturday in the summer, many of them gather for an outdoor market the central village. I drooled over beautiful pottery and jewelry, tried the most delicious pesto kale chips ever (never thought I would like kale, but I am determined to make my own now), and happily wandered about in the sunshine, soaking up the local sights and music.

When we'd had enough of the crowded spaces, we found ourselves snug inside the Tree House Cafe devouring a delicious and nutritious lunch underneath the branches of a giant tree. The entire cafe was built within this tree. What an amazing place...and the food was fantastic.

We eventually moved out of town and drove around the island in search of interesting things to photograph. As we traveled down pretty tree-lined curvy roads, we found other cosy cafes,  fields of sheep and lamas, ocean piers and funky houses. Almost every one had a sign out front...fresh eggs, natural honey, pottery, fruits and veggies, you name it. Anything you needed, you could find on this little island of abundance.

I found myself imagining what it would be like to live there. I think I could be very happy on an island like that...at least in the summer months. A weekend cottage would be oh, so perfect.
I look forward to returning for the fall fair in September, when I can dream a little more.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

From Your Daughter...


He has a soft spot in his heart for crows.

He has a quiet, subtle sense of humour that cracks me up.

His idea of cooking is throwing every left-over from the fridge into the frying pan... all at once... almost always mixed with scrambled eggs.
But he can make a masterpiece of a pizza.

He taught me to ride my first big kid bike, how to get up on one waterski, took me for my first driving lesson (it didn't go well, but at least the car came back to the driveway fully intact), taught me all about the colour wheel, composition and perspective, and tried to teach me to draw, yet I still can't draw a stick man to save my life. Thanks for trying, Dad.

He is the most patient person I know.

When I was little, he used to set up a small easel next to his so I could paint with him.

He's a chronic whistler. He gets that from his dad. He listens to music as he paints, forever whistling along. The best part is when he fills in melody gaps in songs with his own little improvisations. It's really quite endearing.

He has an impressive knowledge of music and knows good music when he hears it...always open to what is new to his ears. What we listened to when I was young has had a strong influence on what I listen to now.

He gets giddy and child-like whenever he gets to purchase a new techy kind of gadget. Then he will spend hours meticulously learning every detail from the instruction manual.

There is no one on this planet I feel safer with to drive me from point A to point B in the snow.

I love you so much, Dad. Happy Father's Day!
xoxoxoxo

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm Feeling the Flurry




June is blur of activity. One more week of craziness and then I can slowly settle into the quiet dreamy glow of summer. It's piano recital time. Not my favourite time. I feel like a nervous parent to each of my students as they prepare for their performances on Saturday.

These flowers remind me of all the smiley happy faces of family and friends that will make up our audience...faces peeping between other faces, eager to see their child walk to the piano, place their hands on the keys and share with everyone what they've learned this year.

Ooohh, I can't wait until it's over. It doesn't seem to get any easier each year, and I am learning to accept that. I am anxious because I am invested in these kids...and that's a good thing. It's well worth the butterflies.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Beautiful Thing ~ twenty.eight


~playing with one of Kim Klassen's lovely textures~


The month of May is coming to a close, and so is my little project. I hope it has brought you a bit of happiness, a little sprinkling of quiet beauty throughout your spring days. 

Yellow is the colour of friendship. I offer this flower to you... to each of you who have been by my side throughout this month long journey. I am so grateful for the friends I have made in the blogging world over the last few years...there is nothing more beautiful than connection, whether it is in person or in spirit. So really, I couldn't do a month of beautiful things without you being a part of it. A big part of it, as this would be a very lonely little blog if it wasn't for you. Thank you for your love and kindness. You are all so so beautiful.

xoxo

Monday, May 30, 2011

One Beautiful Thing ~ twenty.seven



I don't take landscapes very often. I think it is because my eye sees the same places all the time, so I have a hard time finding something extraordinary enough within the scene that entices me to photograph it. But when I come across a scene like this one, it's hard not to find the beauty. I couldn't help thinking about my dad today as I captured this old boat.

My dad is an artist. He looks for things like this to paint. When I was younger, every time we took a road trip, we would often find ourselves parked on the side of the road while my dad got out to photograph something interesting that he could work with in a future painting. He was, and still is, drawn to old collapsing barns, battered old roofless shacks and abandoned boats. Sometimes I would get out of the car to watch him... and I could never understand why it took him so long to take the picture. He would stand there for what seemed like eons, looking through the lens before I would finally hear the shutter click. And I must say, to this day, I have never heard a better sounding shutter than what came from his old film camera. I wish my camera sounded like that. I think I used to stand next to him more to hear that sound than to see what he was photographing.

But now I know better. Now I know how long it can take sometimes to find the right composition. To find just the right angle. To make sure my settings are right before I take the picture. While most of the time I am snuggling in, getting close and personal with my subject, today I learned that sometimes it's best to step back a little and take in the whole scene. And I am learning to be more patient.

I had no idea back then, watching my dad, that I was taking my very first photography lesson, and that he would be my first teacher.