Post Valentine’s loveliness plus a new page

Today’s rain and cold is making us want to stay at home.
Hibernate. Have a bit more winter.
But we were out of fruit and so decided on a morning trip to Whole Foods.

Every time I’m there I think of how much I love to live with whole, natural, organic goods.
Do you like beeswax candles and fresh, handmade soaps? I do.

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Some of my friends make their own candles and soap. I’ve made candles before but not soap. I’d like to try to one day.

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It’s lovely at home today. It’s warm and fragrant with flowers.

Yesterday I made another page in my personal journal and it was late when I finished constructing it. This afternoon I sliced up a blood orange, lit some candles and had a good look at the page.

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I love these little candles. They are peony scented, made by a small Cornish company called St. Eval Candle Company. Robert gave them to me for Christmas. They are just so delicious.

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I’ve decided that I really love this page.
The words I found there say: “The problem was not sufficient to keep the drive down.”
To me, this represents my drive to constantly create things, to get over my problems and limitation, you know, not let anything hold me down. The words reminded me of weeds…misunderstood flowers really, plants that belong.

Weeds which are so powerful that they push thru cement and grow and flower in any condition, with any limitations. I love weeds and draw, paint, carve and sculpt them a great deal. I used some vibrant tissue rectangles, which came form a wonderful New Year’s Eve years ago, and collaged the other words away, then painted with my acrylics and inks. I’ve run out of mat medium and so used gloss medium and really love the glossy look. Proves once again that there are no mistakes, just happy accidents. :D

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Now I’ve made myself a cup of tea and am reading the next page. So far the words “experimental genius” have captured my attention. (By the way, this next page is the last page with writing. Not sure how I’ll construct the photo pages.)

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Experimental genius reminds me of R! This Valentine’s we are in different countries and he sent me a little video called “look what I found”. It shows all the flood water running across the field paths and I was completely ready to see some squeaky little thing paddling its head off, and, instead, there was an “I” and a heart and a “U” made from bright pebbles under that cold, running water. And his hand was red from the frozen water!

R is such a keeper! :D

Hope your weekend is lovely and tranquil and you’re all basking in the Valentine’s love, which hopefully sticks around in your heart all year.

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Merry Christmas everyone!

Good morning, good afternoon and evening too, where ever you are my dear hearts, new friends, friends I haven’t met yet but know I’ll love. Did you have/are you having a lovely Christmas day?
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We have had a wonderful peaceful day with much love, texts and emails from friends and cuddles from Theo.
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Christmas here in England is all about the Christmas lunch and this means TURKEY, lots of it, just around 3pm, right after the Queen’s speech, so the turkey went in by 11am.
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Open wood and coal fire all day, open prezzies and happy moments.
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Theo could smell the turkey and knew there was a piece there for him, but had terrific trouble waiting.
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At last our Christmas lunch was ready.
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And Theo got up on his window ledge to wait for his share.
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When it was his turn, after we ate, (remember, ex pub cat with little discipline if he’s allowed), he gobbled up the turkey so fast I couldn’t get a clear photo of him. I guess it met with his approval…lol. (Don’t worry he got a huge bowl of turkey in the kitchen.)
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With our candles lit and a cheery fire, we watched the Doctor Who Christmas special. I’m afraid we sort of lost the plot. We ended up scratching our heads and asking each other where the heck was the story…and what was the story anyway? Anyone get it? Please let me know.
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It’s evening now in England and I’m thinking of what has now passed, what is to come, where we’re headed. Robert is rubbing Theo’s soft ears and Theo is out like a light beside him. What a beautiful night this is…this Christmas night. The fire is cracking and the candles are burning down. There’s a soft, warm glow in my heart.
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Togetherness is where it’s at this evening

It’s lovely for me when I get to spend the afternoon with both of us doing some art and work and talking out some issues in our lives.

This time the afternoon turned into evening, (days are so short right now), and as the lights were turned on progressively, I felt pretty lucky to have C here right now and realised we’ve been at it for several hours and time just stood still.

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C is in the middle of two important projects. She is designing a campaign for shark fining awareness, which she hopes to present all over her campus and garner support to stop that gruesome practice and also is part of a team of researchers gathering info for a report on sexting and the ramifications in Vancouver high schools.

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C does big, bold designs and is brilliant at them. This will be the design for a T shirt to raise awareness. (I must get her to post some of these to her blog)

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I’ve decided it’s time for a new map. I love my map series and haven’t painted a new one since late August. So for this map I’m focusing on the Nuthatch. Sweet little bird. I love the way he descends trees and branches head first. I’ve done some preliminary studies and think this is going to be two nuthatches, one on a branch and one flying to the branch.

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The branch will follow a road right thru the centre of the map. I think the branch will touch the ground and there will be bluebells. Yes, I think there’ll be bluebells.

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A Saturday walk at the river (South arm of the Fraser, at Steveston)

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What a difference a couple of weeks have made at the river! The last time I was here the water was blue-black and solemn and dreary, and the grasses were just brown lumpy islands with water rivulets sparkling around them.

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Now look! The warmer temps have caused a melt and the rich sedimentary water has turned the river a slight violet shade. The grasses have greened and grown to hide periscoping Canada geese.

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Today was somewhat windy, but warm and bright, and the wind played on the water with those little gusts which you could watch sparkling along. You know the ones? The ones which look like a shoal of thousands of little silvery minnows?

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It feels so good to be at the river, to see the broom blooming, welcoming birds and bees, to see the gulls banking in the wind and moving from place to place just by spreading their wings and catching the breeze.
It felt good to look across to the eagles nest on the island and realise that an eagle just lifted from there.

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The only thing which spoiled this lovely, lovely day, was the startling discovery of twelve fresh shark fins for sale on one of the fishing boats at the fisherman’s dock and several vocal Chinese women fighting over them. Twelve harmless creatures, caught, mutilated and thrown back to die slowly of their injury, for prestigious soup, for showing off wealth, for pride…for nothing. Banned in Vancouver, but not here in the city of Richmond. But still, there is an election coming very soon and banning shark fin soup is a political platform.

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So we will try to put that in the back of our mind and sit here in the shady corner with the river behind us and concentrate on how good it feels to be here.

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Finally, a chance to get out in the garden

I just realised that I’ve been working in the garden for a couple of hours this afternoon and I’m actually showing you photos of my “Potting Bench”.

Oh well, I did work in the garden for a couple of hours but there’s not a lot to show for it. The garden really swallows up the work…don’t you think so?

So here is the the west wall of my garage. In it is a large and lovely window. Perfect for starting seeds. On the wall hangs my late aunt’s oil of irises; a flower that I love to pieces. (Before anyone starts yelling about beautiful oil paintings hanging in the garage, remember that there are so many artists in this family that…yes…big oils are hanging in the garage, and it gives me my beautiful space that I crave.)

Beside it is a green chalk board rescued years ago when Shaughnessy Hospital was rebuilt. On it is a chalk map of last year’s garden.

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I love the old letterpress drawer for sorting seeds. It used to hang in C’s room and held tiny fairytale glass things but then she grew up. :(

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This zinc tub was a thrift store find, (probably $5 or less…I’m a cheap date), and I just empty the seed starter mix into it, and a wire basket holds new tubers and bulbs.

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Right, time to get working. The cold frame is in place and the soil warmed, the sweet peas were started yesterday, (St. Patrick’s Day ritual), and now to plant the peas, beans, greens and the Nigella seeds I stole rescued from the gardener’s compost pile at Kew last year.

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Fog

It’s been one of those lovely Vancouver winter days where the whole morning harbour is shrouded in fog.

I know it’s advection fog (a left-over term from a geography course) and I love to watch it move in and settle on the water. There’s very little to be seen so I close my eyes and listen. Fog horns are sounding, the gulls are shrieking, metal rigs are clanking against boat masts. Somewhere in the harbour a sea plane’s engine starts to rumble and my breath swirls the white haze around me.

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Then, as the sun begins to rise and warm I can see the shore birds backlit by the weak sun.

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A few more minutes and more of the harbour comes into view.

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But the sun is determined and soon the magic begins to evaporate.

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Mornings like today I think on my favorite little poem, a Carl Sandburg poem; the first one my children learned to recite.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbour and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Round here on a Monday morning

Everything is gray and it’s a bit chilly in the house. I didn’t sleep very well last night and I think the barometric pressure has dropped because I’m feeling a bit headachy. Everyone is out except for the cats and me and I’m just hanging around today.

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Hanging around like a little kimono-bear and I’m all snuggled up in my father’s old sweater, which I’m wearing to death.

Everybody is snuggled up. Morgan is with me in a basket under the kitchen table and Milo has wiggled his way under a blanket on the sofa where he’s likely to stay till late afternoon.

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I made myself a second cup of tea in one of the bowls I brought from France. It’s a clever thing to drink your tea from French bowls. You need to use both hands at the start and this makes you lovely and warm, and by the time the bowl is light enough to hold with one hand, you’re feeling rather French and chic. Look at you French girl with that French bowl in your hand. Très sexy.

I’m contemplating planting the last of the paper whites today but also have that “I can’t be bothered” feeling. I’m looking at some paper whites already sprouting happily in a pot and just now I had this thought: “Who will live and who will die?” Oh god, I can’t believe I’m thinking of a series of paintings of bulbs. But first I want to finish the map I started before Christmas.

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Yesterday I got the loveliest email from Japan from the parents of a charming girl staying with us for ten weeks. Bless their hearts. It made me get all teary reading it. I’ll post it for you. Today the mail came and in it the water rates bill, (groan). That reminds me: time for some good mail. I think I’ll finish my tea writing to some friends and before I know it good mail will be coming my way.

Oh and good mail can come your way from me if you like. Steps you have to take include: emailing me your addy so I can send you something and entering my giveaway so I can send you lots of somethings.

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Much love to you my friends and thank you so much for the lovely comments you’ve been leaving for me on Saturday’s post. I want to reply to each and every one of you but can’t because of this random generator thing. (Actually will have to delete my comments first) I’m the luckiest girl to have you in my life, my warm and supportive friends.

A little email from Japan:

Hello. This time there is a relationship in the situation called the host family and has you keep it, and thank you for daughter.
As a matter of course, it is the first time that she lives apart from a family for a long term, and there is the problem of words (the linguistic ability is low, too), and the daughter feels it when she will live a life in strain and the uneasiness.
I want to entrust all it to Veronika (as for the period of the homestay) during this short-term studying abroad period.

I think that I learn most including the importance of the family, the splendor of the relation with the person and the warmth of the person by living I am separated from a family life.
The eldest daughter stays in the same way in Canada (Vancouver) three years ago, too and feels it when I grow up in a good meaning and came home.

Is a daughter naive by all means, but is a glance same as a family; if have spend it, is happy. I believe that I think that it was very lucky that Veronika became the host family of the daughter heartily.
Remaining period, daughter, thanking you in advance.

*p.s : We live in the place called Uji of Kyoto, Japan. It is enrolled in a world heritage, and, on the immediate side of the house, there is “Byodo-in Temple” which is drawn on the Japanese currency coin, and it is in a sightseeing spot.

When I come to Japan by sightseeing by all means, I feel very glad if I have you drop in.
I am sorry that dispatch of mail was late deeply.

If anything happens, please transmit an email to this e-mail address willingly anytime.

Excuse me.

A’s family

(couldn’t you just die? so sweet!)

January 1st and the sun came out.

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There is an anticipation in a New Year’s morning. Will the sunrise be the start of a fulfilled promise from the night before?
High winds, leaden skies and bucketing rain for weeks on end and now…calm…sun!

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Walking down to the village the wind felt like a whisper. There is new birdsong in the hedges and, if you look really closely, you can see the tiny song in opaque white against a blue wash of sky.

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People are out in the lane; on horses, on pushbikes, walking, wishing everyone a good morning and happy New Year. Molly, just returned from a good field run, barks and calls me over for a pet.

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Anything’s possible on a New Year’s morning like this, in this lovely sunshine, in this little pink heart of mine.

I stood on the bridge and watched the reflecting blue and welcomed the new day…and I dangled there. Hanging in that moment, hanging like the birdsong in the hedge, like the aftertaste of harmony on still lips.

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Happy, happy Christmas to all of you my friends on this Christmas eve.

This Christmas eve I wish you a lovely hot bubble bath,
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Some peaceful time with your most treasured books,
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The best carols and brightest candles to light up the night,
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And most importantly, I wish you a heart full of happy, rich, magical moments with family and friends, as well as a warm, full belly on Christmas day.

Happy Christmas and much love to all of you, those I know and those who stop by, you’re all cared about and I think of you all as my friends :)

A soft December walk

Walking thru the gate into the fields this December afternoon into a soft and misty world.

Above me, a pigeon takes flight. Then five, then fifty.

The trill of their frantic wing beats cut thru the softness.

Then, the copse feels empty and the only sign of their passing are a few soft, downy feathers gently floating between the trees.

There’s a thin layer of silver over the puddles on the fields. The floods have subsided but the ground hasn’t managed to absorb all that water.

I crack thru the thin ice and squelch in the mud with my wellies.

I see two pheasants in the distance but they hear me and fly away. There’s no way to walk softly today.

Then, a familiar face; my village friend Mike with his new Labrador pup Molly. Molly and I just met but already love each other. There’s nothing in the world like the enthusiasm and affection of a new puppy. Mike and I hug and promise to see each other soon.

And then home for afternoon tea.