Sunday, December 29, 2013

On Ravens and Snowflakes

A fresh snowfall has the same effect on my creative psyche as a clean crisp sheet of paper. Who knew white could be so inspiring? Or black? Let me explain...

The world around me is green, here on the coast.  But I journeyed into the mountains for Christmas, along with 40 or so of my nearest and dearest next of kin. We gather every three years at an old ski lodge, and while it was crazy and chaotic, there was such intense love and a wonderful sense of belonging.

We slept on bunk beds, shared in the making and devouring of incredible food, wandered snowshoe trails while flakes the size of ping pong balls fell upon our tongues. We laughed till we cried while giving and receiving (and oftentimes stealing) in a secret santa gift exchange. We read stories to the little ones and joked around the campfire with the bigger ones. We hugged. And then hugged some more. We built snowmen, snow forts and luge tracks while throwing snowballs. We made the best of the white stuff.

My dad and I took a long walk to take pictures of the snow. I hung my heart on a delicate branch while he captured the bigger landscapes. And this is where it began... my return to the creative inspiration that  has been eluding me for months...despite recently buying myself my dream camera for my 40th birthday. Despite having the free time to take pictures. I lost my mojo somewhere along the way.

When we returned from the mountains, I was reading a novel that told the story of a little girl and the drawing she made of a raven. I don't know if it was my love for ravens, or the thought of being able to draw one, but within a day I had a new sketchbook in one hand and a drawing pencil in the other. All of my immediate family members are artists...I know that somewhere hidden deep inside my DNA is the ability to draw. I've just never stuck with it long enough to see what I am capable of. I'm willing to give it another try. My dad offered me some wonderful advice. He said, "draw anything and everything...and don't show anyone your sketches." This allows me the freedom to make all kinds of mistakes without the fear of judgement. But even so, I was not prepared for how intimidated I would be by the blank page. I don't remember feeling this way as a child? Nevertheless, there is a raven in my mind's eye that hasn't landed on the paper yet. Among a thousand other things I wish to draw.

I haven't the slightest idea where this is going to take me. Maybe it is just a passing whim. I don't know. I really don't care. For the present moment, the desire to make lines and shapes is very alluring. I find myself pouring over illustrations and watercolours on pinterest. I watched a woman create a thing of beauty in a cafe today as she made someone a latte. Art is everywhere. I am finding inspiration EVERYWHERE. I just need the patience now to let myself learn a new medium, while picking up my camera every now and then to nourish the other art form I have come to love so much.

I hope to see you here a lot more often this coming year. :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Flights of Fancy

If I could start over... be born again and become anything... actually, if I could choose my talent, and grow up all over again, I would wish to be a children's book illustrator. I come from a family of artists so I know it's in my genes, somewhere. Somewhere very lost.

I imagine myself hidden away under some magnificent tree, drawing pictures of magical things that don't really exist. I would create worlds that would appear so much more beautiful than the mundane everyday that my eyes have grown too accustomed to. They would still look like places we have here in the real world, but they would be better somehow... places I would wish I could enter into and never come back.

I wander the children's section of book stores just so that I can see the world with a more sublime twist as I imagine myself in the places that someone else has conjured up. It astounds me how creative people can be.

It is a little bit of escapism I seek. A way to buffer reality. Luckily, sometimes I can find things inside my camera that give me that little hit of awe. A little taste of wonderment. Maybe I can't draw very well, but I can see. I just never know what that lovely click of my shutter has waiting for my eyes to gaze upon. Cameras are magical objects capable of discovering other magical objects. They make instant illustrations... which is a good thing for my impatient nature.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Still Within, Looking Out

Hello. I'm still here. Somewhere.

An early fall storm has set in, so I am nestled within a blanket, within the warm cosy walls of my home, watching from the inside out. I'm in a cocoon within a cocoon. I believe that is why I love storms so much. They evoke a desire to feel safe and warm and dry. Perhaps I seek the illusion of safety a little too much. Maybe I don't explore enough of the world around me, or take enough risks. Will I regret this one day when I am old and wrinkly, wrapped in a blanket out of necessity rather than comfort?

I've always been a little bit afraid. My earliest memories seem to orbit around the same themes... the world was just too big. There were too many people, there was too much noise, too many demands and too many frightening scenarios that kept toying with my imagination, even my dreams.

Nothing really horrible happened. I think I was just born this way. And maybe that is ok. Surely, we are not all destined to do great things. Maybe my destiny is tucked within the quieter nooks and crannies of this fast-paced, ever-spinning, rapidly changing world. I still believe there is an important place for me within the chaos. I don't need a large space. Small and intimate would do just beautifully.

Have I written about this before? Many times, I think. Writing about it seems to help me find acceptance in the things about myself that I feel are out of the norm. Once my thoughts morph into words, everything seems to feel more solid somehow.

Time for a cup of tea and a little storm watching. The world and all its chaos can keep up its antics... outside my window.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I'm doing some canning

Summer, I am ready to bottle you up and preserve you for a long dark winter day when I crave the warmth of the sun. But that's not likely. I crave raindrops more than sun rays. However, it's never a bad idea to be prepared.

All things leave a mark on us... even seasons. Particularly seasons. The things we fall hopelessly  nostalgic over... the sweet fragrance of a strawberry patch, our grandmother's lilac tree, the first quiet snowfall of the year... so many of them are seasonal. And we are full of whimsy and longing when one season starts to fade and another peeks around the corner with promises of familiar creature comforts.

At least, I am. Full of longing. Especially at the end of summer. I'm a girl who needs to be watered on a regular basis. And this year it has been way too dry, and I am feeling a little too parched.

The summers of my past have left an imprint on my soul that brings about a mild anxiety that I can't shake. I think I have conditioned myself to feel anxious in the warmer months, which leaves me longing for fall way too early. I shouldn't wish my life away.

 I do recognize and appreciate the good things that summer brings. A friend of mine just took me through her expansive organic garden and filled my arms with pea pods, fresh basil and ripe delicious tomatoes. I have spent long glorious hours wandering beaches and wild spaces with the sun on my shoulders and sand between my toes. I've eaten more peaches this year than I can count. And strawberries, and raspberries and watermelon.. I could eat watermelon for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I've picnicked with friends, went away on a little road trip and I've stolen entire afternoons to read great novels. I have so much freedom in the summer. That is truly wonderful.

But I am still ready to throw in the beach towel and do a rain dance. A few drops fell today. That is encouraging.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


I get these dreams sometimes. The same thing happens every time. I am forced to move out of the place I am living, into an unfamiliar one that is usually not a very nice place. And in my dream, I am always trying to talk myself into liking this new change, even though my surroundings are dreadful. And every time, I wake up with the most tremendous sense of relief that it was just a dream, I could almost kiss the walls.

To say that I am a homebody would be a vast understatement. I spent most of my years growing up in a place where I never felt I belonged. When I finally let go of that place (never looked back, really) and moved to the island, I finally found my place. And I vowed to myself, never to leave.

Well. I spent the last week or so in the complicated world of real estate. I discovered a perfect little house. Off the island. And all week, despite the fact that that house was calling my name for a number of reasons, I was ignoring the distress calls inside my heart. I have let that little house go as well. I just can't bear the thought of leaving.

A few weeks ago, I was in Tofino. My favourite place on this lovely little planet we call home. When I'm not there, I long to be there. And each time I walk the beaches, little stories unfold before me. Sometimes mysterious ones...

For instance... who planted this tree on the beach? And why? Was it alive when it was planted? It is supported by a tall piece of driftwood, and it has definitely seen better days, but in the fog it looked spectacular and truly mysterious.

And this car. How did it get here? The tires are still inflated, so my guess is that it might have travelled all the way from Japan and has washed in with the tides. We are starting to see a lot of debris from the tsunami on our beaches, so that would be the most reasonable explanation, right? But maybe it has a different story? I'll never know.

And this was just pure whimsy. It's not everyday you see a pole weaved from head to toe in coloured bits of fabric. It was like a maypole of sorts. Beautiful and mysterious. I envision a great celebration. Or perhaps an offering to the sea gods...

Or sea fairies?

All I know is that the sea and its creatures were offering up a lot of love this day. How lucky they are to be able to make their homes right on the beach. These tiny sand huts were popping up all over the beach... no bigger than a thimble. Adorable.

And this house? This one would be mine, tucked snuggly amongst the trees on its very own island at high tide. What a lovely place to dream away the summers, and to watch the storms in the winters. And if you think it might be lonely, there are two other houses hidden on this tiny island.

The future is never certain, but my heart is telling me to stay. And just as though I have awakened from yet another dream, my relief is abundant enough that I could kiss the sand.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Snoozing on the Chives

I thought I couldn't love bumblebees any more than I already do, until they decided to move in next door and make bumblebee babies! I have a hive of new neighbours living right outside my bedroom window. They made their new digs out of an abandoned robin's nest that has been lying vacant within the twisty vines of a clematis. The once hollow shell has been filled with feathers and other little bits and bobs and now resembles a miniature beaver dam... it's quite a sturdy little dwelling. I am fascinated with it all, as well as a little protective. I only wish it was made of glass so I could see what is happening under the surface.

A bumblebee nest is quite different from a honeybee hive. Although it does produce a little bit of honey, it is significantly smaller and quieter, and these sweet docile creatures have no interest in doing any harm, unless their nest is threatened. Even then, I doubt they would ever turn aggressive. All buzz and no bite. They are ideal neighbours. And so cute!

The little one in this photo is not from the nest outside. He was resting on a chive blossom in my mother's garden yesterday. I think this little introvert was trying to escape the mayhem in the flowering plant right next to him... it was completely spilling over with bees.  

I captured a few snaps this weekend between spring showers. Two baby bunnies have moved into the garden, much to my mom's frustration, mowing down everything they can wrap their little teeth around. So adorable, but destructive... and lightning fast! Faster than the capabilities of my shutter button. So instead, I held the stillness, and a little bit of heart, inside my lens for you. May you find this little spot of peace just when you need it, just when the busybee inside of you needs a brief respite.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Whale Song

I went to the beach late this afternoon, seeking a little quiet after a whirlwind week. As I often do, I took pictures of stones...silent beings they are... the best sort of companions when you are craving silence.  I was thinking to myself, there is a finite number of stones on this planet. What would the final tally be if we had a way to count them? Do we have a word for a number that immense?

I went to the far stretches of the beach, and perched upon a high cluster of rocks so I could look down and feel somewhat surrounded by the water. Amongst the steady drone of boats passing by and the rhythmical lapping of the little waves upon the shore, I heard something else. I heard the distinctive song of a blow hole in the distance.... a whale breathing..... A few minutes later, I heard it again, and then again... so I searched all that rolling water until I finally saw her. Three times I saw the smooth dark shadow of her back come just slightly above the surface, and then slowly slip back under as she made her way along the horizon line.

Those slow deep breaths. It was almost as though her heart was in synch with the heavy ocean swells that enveloped and supported her. What a gift, and a gentle reminder to take time to slow down and breathe when the world begins to spin a little quicker than normal. Inhale... Exhale... Repeat.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Language of Colour

It was sort of sticking out of the ground at a weird angle, this crooked old tap. It was in a neglected part of a large garden. And that colour took hold of my attention far more than any surrounding flora or fauna. How odd that a chunk of metal could have that kind of power... nature almost always gets my heart above all other things.

I saw a picture of an artist's studio, whose walls were this shade of blue. Actually, the walls and ceiling were mostly glass... but between the small panes and on the back wall, this colour illuminated the whole room with whimsy and playfulness. How it must stir and delight an artist's imagination, to be surrounded on all sides by such a delicious hue.

I want to take a bite out of that blue. Lick it like a frozen popsicle. Swim in it.

If only I lived in a space that could support this kind of brilliance without it being overwhelming. I did paint this weekend. And there's no question this little tap played a roll in inspiring me to choose some new wall colours. I am now fully enveloped in the soft breath of powder blue and the slightest suggestion of muted green that shifts with the evolving light of day. The walls really do seem like they are breathing. So very gentle and soothing. These subtle tones speak a language my soul understands and responds to in the quietest of ways. No doubt, colour has a deep effect on our psyches.

My indoor spaces have come to life, glowing from the inside out, synching beautifully with the emergence of spring. Everything feels fresh and new again.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Taro Takes a Nibble

At first, Taro had no interest in helping me select a winner of the draw. I picked him up and put him close to the area where the names had been scattered, and he gave me a quick thump and turned his tail to me. But the pretty colours must have caught his eye, because he was back shortly after.

And he didn't hesitate to make a selection. He took a nibble, then grabbed the paper and hopped off with it. But he did pose for a moment so I could get an official shot. I then stole the paper away and replaced it with a piece of apple. He was happy and I was happy.

Actually, it's quite funny. As I type this, he is ripping around the room like a baby goat. He gets these little bursts of energy and he twists and flies across the room, almost as though he has no control of his body for brief flashes of time. It comforts me to see this, because he is almost 12 years old (quite geriatric for a bunny) and doesn't run around as much as he used to. He must sense this happy post in the making.

Congratulations, Elizabeth! I will have a little bit of Kinfolk loveliness in the mail shortly for you. I hope you enjoy it. Many thanks to everyone who took part in my little draw. Taro and I wish you a very happy spring!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Giveaway

Speaking of sending a little paper love....

I've become a little bit of a Kinfolk addict. I wish I had known about this gorgeous magazine in its very beginnings, but lucky for me, they have only published seven volumes so far. Some I have, and some continue to elude me (volumes 1, 2 and 4, wherever can I find you? You seem to be out of print and in high demand!).

Anyway, I have an extra volume 7 that I would love to send to someone's mailbox. It is brimming with spring inspiration... ice cream, to be more precise... sea-salted lemon ice cream, and cones overflowing with floral loveliness. Oh, there is so much beauty to devour in this issue. I'm completely smitten.

Because I am sharing in a little spring-time celebration, I thought that my little easter bunny, Taro, could be included in the fun. Leave me a comment containing your favourite thing spring, by April 20th, and I will put your name in a draw. I will put each name on a pretty piece of paper and scatter them for Taro to find. If you've ever had a bunny, you know they love to chew things. The first paper to woo his taste buds will be the winner. I will share a photo of the nibbled up proof once he has made his selection.

Good luck and happy Spring!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Letterbox Love xo

I didn't just want a photo of this lovely letterbox, all crooked and covered with lichen... what I really wanted to do was pry its rusty post out of the ground, take it home and replant it so I could open it daily and find sweet little surprises inside.

I imagine one day I would unhinge the creaky door and find fresh baked cookies from my neighbour. Or perhaps a feather and a smooth round stone from a fellow beach wanderer. Another day, I might find a jar of honeycomb from the beekeeper down the lane.

And best of all, I would open my little letterbox to find thoughtful little notes and hand written letters from my friends all over the globe. Oh, that would make my heart twirl.

There's nothing quite like a hand written letter, is there?

Would anyone like to be pen~friends? I may not have this box, but I do have a mailbox that is somewhat allergic to bills and craves the taste of pretty coloured envelopes and things.

Let me know... It would bring me such happiness to send you a little paper love.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Move over, Winter

It was one of those sublime long weekends that has taken me just beyond the realm of ordinary. I'm having a hard time resurfacing and accepting the reality of tomorrow.

It's not as though anything spectacular happened. It's just that as the sun finally made herself presentable, I felt the shift of seasons and found myself steeped in light and all things beautiful...

I saw sun sparkle and heavy fog over the ocean at the same time. Such an intensely dramatic juxtaposition. I was about to be devoured whole by that swift cloud of sea smoke, but then it collided with the sun and dissolved on impact.

Did you know that some dogs still wag their tails even when they are swimming? I was sitting upon a high rocky point, when a black lab on the beach below caught my eye. He was forever leaping into the water after his beloved stick, over and over again. And that tail never stopped moving... even in deep water! Why have I never noticed this before?

My dear friend invited me for breakfast. She created an exquisite piece of art on my plate... little crepe-like cups filled with berries, dusted with powered sugar, and adorned with tiny purple pansies. My heart broke a little when I had to disturb such beauty with a jagged metal fork.

The air was sucked clean out of my lungs when I set sight on the most incredible magnolia tree this afternoon. It was blooming in its most absolute prime. Not a speck of decay or wither. I think magnolias only look like this for a single day, and while I'm hopelessly charmed by flowers that have passed their prime, this tree had me completely under its spell.

I must remind myself that just because the weekend is over, that doesn't mean the beauty ends. It has no timeline or expiration date. It is a constant. And always available to the open hearted.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beach Houses

Remember making forts when you were young?

On rainy days, every pillow and blanket that could be found in the house was utilized... especially the giant couch pillows. They made great walls. And even more fun than building them, was trying to climb inside them without creating an implosion. The most extreme care was taken not to disturb those fragile pillow walls, but, like a sandcastle destined for high tide, usually disaster struck at some point. All the more reason to build another, more solidly constructed one.

These driftwood forts seem to pop up overnight on my favourite beaches. I hardly ever see the same one twice, and when I find a new one, I can't help but want to climb inside, or at the very least, peek inside the windows. I think these are big-kid-constructed forts. Adults build them to try and reclaim their inner Tom Sawyer. Some of them are so incredibly elaborate. So creative. So deliciously playful. They make great shelters on windy days. They make great secret hideaways for romantics.

But as fast as they go up, they mysteriously disappear. Do some people find the same joy in destroying them as others do when they build them? Is it like squashing the sandcastle before the ocean claims it? And why do I never see a fort in the making (or destroying) in progress? Maybe the crows are building them in the middle of the night?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Let Me Be a Castaway

I wanted to ask... can I borrow your boat? Can I row out a little ways, just so I can see the view of the shoreline from out there? So I can release myself from the certainty of solid ground underfoot?

There are adventures to be had in little boats such as these. My inner pirate is swooning.

My brother once took the roll of captain and invited me on a watery magic carpet ride. It was dark. Just a sliver of milky moonlight led the path out of the safety and security of Secret Cove into deep open waters. The rough choppy waves seemed to take teasing delight in tossing our little boat to and fro... just past my comfort level. But my captain was steadfast.

He didn't tell me why we were headed into the black abyss. Perhaps I was a little too trusting. But I know my brother, and I am well aware that he is a magnet for all things adventurous.

He cut the small motor. And I felt small in all that expansive quiet. Vulnerable. But anticipatory. What wizardry was he going to pull out of his sleeve this night? He asked me then to put my hand in the water. And swish it around a little.

Well... a whole new world of spectacular opened up to me in that moment. The water began to glow. A brilliant green sparkle exploded in all directions. Fireflies of the sea were dancing in my retinas, burning a memory into my heart that still enchants me to this day when I reminisce.

Growing up in the dry, semi-desert interior, I was new to the marine world. I hadn't lived next to the ocean yet and I didn't know about bioluminescence. And for years after that experience, I still didn't know if it was a chemical reaction occurring in the water, or if it was a living entity. I almost didn't want to know... in the same way you don't want to know a magician's tricks. I loved the mystery.

I've been lucky enough to see this phenomena twice in my life... once from the surface, and once during a night dive which almost took my breath away in its dizzying magnificence.

Looking at these shore-bound boats, I can't help but dream of future adventures. I don't need to sail around the world to find awe and wonder. I prefer small expeditions. They can be just as unforgettable.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Sweet Allure

There is a tangled weave of buds growing from my veins.

Momentary bursts of euphoria invade my consciousness,
fragmented and soft like a morning dream.

I'm longing for something, even if I'm not clear what that is just yet.

All I know for sure is that my craving for beauty is tangible. 

I want to touch it
breathe it
live within it

It must be spring.