Hello from Sunday night!

Well, welcome year of the horse! I have high hopes for you. Not only have I just bought a cheesy 1956 paperback western called,”Thirty Notches” by Brad Ward. (gotta love those macho names), but I also painted this little painting of three horses to celebrate you.
I love threes, don’t you? For me it represents all sorts of wonderful groupings: R, C and me, my three children, my three cats. Does anyone remember that Schoolhouse Rocks little vignette “Three is a magic number”? It rather is, isn’t it? Ok, I just had to link to the Blind Melon version now that we’re adults. :D
This little painting started life as a left-over art card. I used a purple-ish vintage wrapping paper that then I wasn’t crazy about and so I painted the horses over it with acrylics. Then I wasn’t happy about the chalky, blocky look of the acrylics so painted over that whole painted and collaged mess with my oils. Ahh, that’s better. Soft, misty, blended colours. Horses coming form on high down to Earth for the lunar year. So GONG XI FA CAI everyone!

year of the horse

Outside the few early snowdrops have opened. Those precious few immediately were brought inside and put into one of the little ink bottles I bought at the car boot sale. I could hardly wait. I’m sure my neighbours thought me strange peering down into the shade garden every day, (seventeen times/day) checking on them. There are hundreds coming but these six first ones are just so very welcome. As I write this they are beside me and later will be moved to my side of the bed. They have a soft, gentle fragrance and I don’t want to miss a moment with my first garden flowers of the year.

001 copy copy

Today I had it in mind to organise and cull my overflowing book collection. So I dove into the library and then the arduous task of deciding which books to actually let go of began. The thing is that sometimes I don’t remember that I have the book and have to put it aside to read thru it to decide whether it’s a keeper or not. Some books I’ve completely forgotten about, like this lovely 1941  ”A Choice of Kipling’s Verses Made By T.S. Eliot”, and then read it over lunch completely forgetting that I actually set out to clean up the library. But with a thousand books in the house…well…I do understand and appreciate that I really don’t need two copies of several Simon Winchester or Diane Ackerman books…even if I love them to pieces, and so get on with the task.

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So, in the end I enlisted Chloe’s help going thru the books and took about one hundred books to Dalyce at our most favourite Booklovers used book store. If you’re anywhere within fifty miles of the Lower Mainland, it would so be worth your while to come visit.

Mind you, the minute we drop off books we’re buying new ones. And by the way, Dalyce gives a credit for books brought in, which applies to books being bought. How can you go wrong? Anyway, if you come, let me know when and I’ll meet you. :D

books and bookstores

So back home now with a few of new books and looking forward to cuddling up with a soft, warm blanket, my snowdrops and books. The empty bags are waiting to be filled up with more books to bring to Booklovers, (except this one, which seems to have been expropriated by Morgan), and in a day or two the library will be organised and orderly. (then I’ll take a photo to show you.)

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Sharing with The Dedicated House for make it pretty Monday

A little bit of extraordinary red

Robert sometimes suggest that I add more colour into my life.

He sometimes teases me and says that I only will wear black. I say that’s not true, it’s only until someone comes up with a colour darker than black, then I’d be happy to wear that. :)

It’s true, I’m a basic black kind of girl. I do really love neutrals. Any shade of black, grey, beige…etc, that’s for me.

But I do love surrounding myself with splashes of colour, as long as I don’t have to be committed to it. Like, I don’t think I’d like to paint the walls blue or yellow or orange. I know paint it the cheapest design mistake anyone can make, but I prefer to have colour in pretty things I can always move away and change.

Except red. I do love red. I can say that I’m committed to red. I did paint the front entry hall a hue of Chinese lacquer red that I mixed myself. (Oh, don’t get me started about trying to get Benjamin Moore to live up to their lacquer red colour swatch. Bunch of wana-be players!)

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Anyway, red. I love red. So, when I got five burrs tangled in my two feet of hair getting these rose hips at my cabin, it was totally worth it. I love them and I’ll love looking at them for a while.


Speaking of love, Chloe asked me for a recommendation for a book. She wants a lovely romance, somewhat sexy, but no…er…pulsating organs. (I guess that leaves Jackie Collins out of the picture…lol) I suggested Katie Fforde, but she said she’d also like a 20 something heroine. I suggested some lovely period books; she said, “in the present day”. Hmm, I’m a bit fresh out of ideas.


I think she’s looking for a romance book to make her feel like the Twilight books made her feel when she was 14.

Anyone have any suggestions? Anyone have a 20 something child who has any suggestions?

This book is my Waverley by Sir Walter Scott. I like this quote from it:

“Nothing perhaps increases by indulgence more than a desultory habit of reading, especially under such opportunities of gratifying it.”

(Except if you’re a fourth year uni student like C and have to read terribly dry essays about hegemony and how it related to post modernism. Then you need a lovely romance book to balance life a little.)


Sharing with Mary for mosaic Monday and with Kathryn at Make it pretty Monday and with Inspire me Monday

Book spine poetry, giving it a try

Last night I sat on the back of the sofa in my library with my head cocked sideways reading book spines till I got a crick in my neck. It was all Lynn’s fault. She posted this brilliant challenge and people in my writing group took it up with fantastic imaginations.

As I sat there reading the spines all things ridiculous grabbed hold of my heart and wound their sticky tentacles around my soul till I was laughing.

Here are links to Misky’s, Margo’s, Linda’s, and De’s.

I hope the energy for being silly is thick where you are. Go ahead, cut it with a butter knife and spread it on your toast.

Where she rambles on and on about page 84 of 1984

C has just started a class of contemporary fiction. It’s an abbreviated course, heavy in reading, but hey…it gives her 3 more university credits. One of the assigned books is Orwell’s 1984. She hasn’t read it yet.

I know, you’re shaking your head at my complete lack of guidance for my child.

Actually, I have to be truthful, I don’t want her to read it! I have this urge to save all my children from exposure to evil. And Big Brother is all evil. I do sometimes wonder why I feel like that. You would think that exposing them to books with a difficult subject matter, like 1984, the Diary of Anne Frank, even Deborah Ellis’ The Bread Winner, would communicate an important life lessons in a way I can’t. (Actually, I was very upset when the kids had to read The Diary of Anne Frank in high school, and, when C did something very stupid as a teen, I gave her The Bread Winner to read as a possible punishment…she loved it!) I can see you shaking your head and muttering, “Oh for god’s sake” under your breath.
I guess my “protect the children from difficult subject matter” instincts may come from my experience of having to flee the Czech Republic as a child.

I do waffle on!

Back to 1984…

We spent last autumn at West Cottage. It was so beautiful. The maples at the bottom of the garden shed mountains of leaves, the crab apple tree was absolutely resplendent with yellow fruit and the leaves on the cherry tree turned daily rainbows. I wanted to document it all and so, between enlarging bedrooms, raking up leaves and photographing everything in sight, I took time to make a small book to remind myself of that glorious October.

Being the junk collector that I am, the book is made from found pieces. A large, posted manila envelope and an ordnance survey map make the covers. Inside, the pages are papers from an old sketchbook. And it is filled with my autumnal photos and drawings and origami folds, found feathers, vintage photos, an old broach, buttons, thread and found poems made from the books “A Brief History of the Wellington Boot” and “1984”.

I found a copy of 1984 in the thrift store. It was missing the front cover and several pages, but the remaining pages were the most beautiful golden colour and had that soft-with-age feeling, you know, as if a breath could scatter the ashes.

I chose page 83/84. On those pages is Winston, paralysed with paranoia about the thought police, as he walks away from Mr Charrington’s shop with the glass paper weight in his pocket. Such emotionally charged pages. But my mind pulled invisible words from the sentences so the found poem reads like this:

Though I don’t recollect any moment
when I
that I was going in the wrong direction
I halted, and stood for several minutes
It was curious, but
i was too paralyzed to move.
There was no retracing steps.
However – - ! i had already made up my mind
that the heart could be trusted.
so I turned to the right and walked on
humming to an improvised tune – -

On the opposite page is an analysis of Bach’s piano concerto in D minor with sketches of the last summer geraniums in watercolour pencils.

So here’s the point of this story: (Thanks for not shouting, “Get to the point already”)

The point is that something beautiful can come out of something frightening, ugly and even evil. Whether it’s a lesson, a growing experience, or just a nice memory. So I’ll encourage C to read on. After all, she’s already read To kill a Mockingbird, Into The Wild, Atonement and many others.

And loved them.

Maybe those books have had a hand in helping her become the beautiful young woman she is.

Aloha Nui Loa (unless you’re evil minded)

Aloha kuu aikane
Hi my friend[s]
Pehea o’e?
How are you

Wau ‘imi he puke olelo Hawaiian
I got a book to [speak] Hawaiian
Kuu aikane Dallas kuleana he ma’ama’a puke hale-kú ‘ai mai
My friend Dallas [ownership] used book store here
A’u hi pili ho’oipoipo me puke
I have a love affair with her books

Hana ‘oe aloha puke?

Do you love books? 
‘o au pu
So do i
A’u pupule na puke
I’m crazy for books
A’u ‘lke mea ‘oe mana’o
I know what you’re thinking
Pupule au li kepu ka moa
Silly I am as a bird

Adding again

Bought a $1 book today mostly to destroy, rip apart, alter for an art project. It’s a coffee table photo book of Canada from the 1970’s but it has the sweetest hand-written dedication in the front that now maybe I can’t bring myself to repurpose the book.
Here it is:
Tony and Ruth,
I thought by now you might appreciate this book a little more, (the white stuff is snow)
This is actually a wedding gift but I’ll say Merry Christmas too since it’s the season. Wish I could have delivered it personally but such was not the case this year. (maybe next)
Till next time

Spent a nice few minutes imagining who Tony and Ruth were, how they didn’t understand snow, did Don see them next time and if I had a publishing house I’d probably call it Umschau Verlag Breidenstein KG too. Actually couldn’t think of anything better. Reminds me of a love poem I wrote about spies in white coats with thin moustaches and blood on their hands who turned into a white sofa bred on a sofa farm by fat-bottomed sofa farmers with 10 polite children. (you had to be there).


Market Jellyfish

I remember we had a children’s book where the pages were cut into thirds and could be flipped to create absurd images. I’m not sure exactly where it is, and most likely at the cabin, but I remember the pictures; like swans with red brick chimney necks and cauliflower heads. Amazing concepts.

I was thinking about how much I would love to create some images like that. A whole catalogue of beautiful absurd images. A children’s book worth.

I’m thinking fish swimming through the Sahara and sailboats in fields, giraffes with totem pole heads and map butterflies.

So I’ve decided to try some double exposure, drawing and mixed media to see if I can make some sense of nonsense but as I thought of all the wonderful images I could create, the small gremlin of self doubt pulled the handbrake and my thoughts turned to, “Where am I going to get images of giraffes anyway?”

I’m surprised by how much it scares me, which almost certainly indicates that I should do it.

One children’s book worth.

32 pages.

How hard can it be?

To feed the soul

One of my most favourite old books is falling apart. It is a small, leather bound, 1907 book-of-the- heart written by Elbert Hubbard called White Hyacinths. Before it eventually disintegrates I mean to frame the first page; it read: If I had but two loaves of bread I would sell one of them and buy White Hyacinths to feed my soul. Yesterday I bought a potted hyacinth for $2.95. It isn’t white; it’s purple and sitting on my writing desk beside my computer. It is feeding my soul. As a gardener, every time I buy a plant from a non-plant store I feel both virtuous and trepidatious. I’m thinking of the poor bulbs which go on sale at Wal-Mart in September and look so sickly by November. You know the ones – straining through the nylon mesh bags in the mega-store’s artificial warmth. What about the wax covered roses which appear every spring, canes broken and frayed? Who can resist saving at least one bag of bulbs or one rose.  This new purple hyacinth will eventually end up in the garden where it will come back next spring, slightly less purple and less full, but will still be just as fragrant and just as welcome.