Chloe cuts her hair for Cancer

Chloe has been wanting to do this for some time now, and even threatening a shaved head for a period of time, (We are ever so glad she reconsidered the shaved bit), but she sent us examples of styles and finally settled on a short-ish bob which would allow her to donate the maximum length to her chosen charity, 360 Hair, a local non-profit, pro bono business, which makes wigs for children suffering thru chemotherapy.

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So off to our salon, Raw Hair Lounge, and an appointment with the lovely Chelsie, who brushed C’s hair and separated it into sections…

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…and cut it off. (Yes, C kept her eyes closed for it)

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And there we are. Twelve inches of clean, lustrous auburn locks all ready to be mailed away.

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Then a little bit of trimming, a little bit of product, a feeling of freedom and the soft, warm-hearted glow of doing something good and right…

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…and VOILA! Our beautiful child.

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I’m so proud of her drive to help, to save the world, to do all she can. :D

Got out of town, Princeton, part one

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Hi everyone, it’s Monday night and I just drove into my dreary, rainy city of black forests and snow capped mountains, but my spirits are full of gold leaves and small towns, grasslands, rivers and lakes.

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Chloe and I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend at our friend’s cabin, with five parental units, seven 20-somethings, six dogs, two cats, two horses and one huge roast turkey.

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How lucky were we to have a weekend of horsey kisses, campfire chats, table games, late evening silly movies and chilly morning breakfasts?

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Very lucky indeed. More tomorrow. :D

The Druids next door

“There is stillness, the stones hold us. Still.” (Druid saying recorded by Romans)

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In the next door village of Stanton Harcourt is a stone henge. The village is named for it: from Stan (farm) + tun (beside the rocks).

It’s a little known Neolithic monument built by people of the early bronze age (2900 BC). Much of the archaeology of the area has been destroyed by Roman-British medieval farmers as they plowed the land. And, the henge which remains is a tiny fraction of an enormous area of barrows and prehistoric settlements all along the Winrdush/Thames valley.

It’s a miracle that the stones exist at all. They have been gathered, toppled, buried, plowed over, used in the construction of the RAF Stanton Harcourt during WWI, and dragged over to the Windrush River to serve as a bridge. By the 1940s, when a renewed interest in this archaeological treasure led to a large dig, there were only three stones standing.

Today, the area is known as The Devil’s Quoits. As with most ancient treasures, Roman-Christian traditions dictated a redirection of any pagan religions, so the area was re-imagined as God giving the Devil a telling off for playing quoits on a Sunday and the Devil had a temper tantrum scattering the quoits forming the henge.

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It may have been lost to history but for aerial WWI surveillance work, which showed the circle and ditch and facilitated the 1940 investigation, and, in 2002, work began to find the stones and rebuild the henge.

Come, walk up to the first earth circle with me, and let’s climb to the top.

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The henge is very large, 2200 ft across. There are/were two Tumuli (burial mounds) excavated in 1940. In the very centre of the great circle is a woman. She stands 5’3″ and, by her bone structure, is believe to be of the Celt. She had a flint knife, a jet slider for her clothes, seven flint arrow heads and a bone pendant in the shape of a looking glass.

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The second burial is located at the North entrance to the henge, underneath a “break” in the ditch circle. It is a man, 5′ 10″, with a ground-down gap in his teeth on his left side, suggesting that he repetitively held something between his teeth. Around him was a smaller ditch intersecting the large, primary ditch. Buried with him was a traditional beaker, dating him to the Beaker people, (early bronze age), seven flint arrowheads, and the same bone ring pendant.

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Beside the Tumulus of the man was a pit of animal bones. Animal and human bones were also found in the ditch around the henge. These were probably other burials and animal sacrifices, but that information is most likely lost to the plow, and only the rabbits, who call the ditch bank their home, are privy to what lies scattered beneath.

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We walked the circumference of the ditch and I collected my own archaeological treasures.

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In the druid culture, ravens are a link between this world and the next. In return for the henge offering me some precious bones, I left a gift of three raven’s feathers in the Western stone.

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In case you’d like to read the 1940 archaeological study here is the link: Excavations at Stanton Harcourt 1940

Linking up with Judith and the Mosaic bunch. :D

Quiet days

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The world is very liminal today.

It’s a grey day here where things can go either way.

The river is very still.

Robert and I wonder if the river is still because of a storm downstream. Too much water downstream. Is that even possible? We like the idea.

The clouds are luminous, the world is wet, all is as perfect as perfect can be.

The Chilterns View, a dreamy holiday stay

The other day, Robert and I gave Catherine a ride into London.
We picked her up from a dreamy little cabin in the middle of nowhere. It’s a little holiday complex called The Chilterns View, and, for being so central to practically everywhere, it’s standing in the middle of the lovely Chilterns countryside, beautifully isolated with fields, trees and wildflowers.

R drove up into the middle of a field and asked, “where is the path again?”

There’s a path?!?

But yes, there was a line where the clover wasn’t quite so high.

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He said, “follow me. :D ” and walked past a fire pit beside a pond…

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…past a little rustic shelter…

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…down a narrow path lined with wildflowers…

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…up an even narrower path between trees…

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…and onto the front porch of the little cabin.

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Inside…OH WOW! To me, the little cabin looks like a bijou cigar box made form the finest, rarest woods to keep the precious contents perfectly safe.

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Everything you might need is all contained within that little jewel of a box. There’s a two burner kitchenette, a ultra modern bathroom, a little sitting area around a woodburner and a wonderful, comfy bed.

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This is the view form the front porch. Couldn’t you just sit out here and paint, write, photograph all day?

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The outer skin of the cabin is a tough and beautiful canvas.

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And THERE’S A HOT TUB!!!

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This is the patio space where you can sit and have a glass of wine. (and look out over that view)

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I loved this boot pull and welly drier beside the front door.

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This is R’s look of, “One more shot and we really have to go, V.”

(sigh) I know.

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I can see this being a fantastic artist’s retreat. :D

In case you would like to check this wonderful place out, here are the contact details again.

Third day in Prague ended up being a long and wonderful one

Holy smokes, where is the time going?

The time is just running by and it seems to me that all I’m doing is walking round from place to place, cross town and back.

Mornings in Prague are the loveliest. Just as the sun begins to warm the ochre walls and light up all the golden decorations.

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That’s also the best time to peek into every church and thru every doorway without the summer tourists getting in the way.

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Then I got on the metro and tram system…

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…and made my way to Vyšehrad, a 10th Century fort and cemetery.

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Came to find Neruda, Dvorak and Smetana.

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Also came to see the view over Prague. Do you see Prague Castle over there in the distance? That’s how far I’ve come,

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It’s a bit less city here, more garden.

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And then I went to the other side to find my grandparents.

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Here they are. The block marble plaque on the crypt translates as “members of the Alemann family”, and in the crypt are my great grandparents (grandfather’s side), my grandparents Karel and Anna, both of his sisters Maria and Ella, his brother Emil, and his sister’s companion Zora.

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Here is the church below the cemetery. This is the church my great grandparents were married in.

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And now for something completely different, a combined photo titled V and the magpie feather because…

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I’ve made my way back to Prague to the Dali Exhibit!

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I so love Dali. Everything about surrealism, expressionism. crazy, zany-ism. Love it.

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Left: self portrait with cod piece… :D

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Rows and rows and rooms full of Dali.

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And on a floor right above Dali is Alphonse Mucha.
You must know this Czech painter and illustrator, or at least know his style. It’s so iconic.

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And, how lucky are we? On the floor above is a Warhol exhibit! Our cup of soup runneth over. :D

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Yeah, me too.

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And, in the evening, I went to the top of the tallest Gothic bell tower in Prague, called Jindrisska, up those little stairs, to sit under three ancient bells named Maria (1518 and 500 kg), Jindrich, (1680, and 3350 kg), and Dominic, (1850 and 1000 kg), and watch a dramatic performance featuring a friend of mine, the son of my cousin.

It was the most unforgettable experience.

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One more full day in Prague and off to E on Sunday. :)

Here I am in Prague

Letadlo!

Letadlo, letadlo letadlo!

I just spent 16 hours in it and can’t for the life of me think of the word when talking to the taxi driver! Airplane! A-e-ro-plan! I have to pseudo-Czech spell it out…Letadlo…duh.

…and what’s more I just came from the Letište…Airport! I can’t believe how hard I have to search for the simple, everyday words!
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But nevermind, here I am at last. In my hometown. With my people. Even if apparently I can’t speak the language any more…lol. No, don’t worry, I can.

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Oh it was hard to wake up this morning. Jet-lag’s a bitch, but the Hilton is central and after a morning of running round various government offices, I made it down to old town square for a little lunch.

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And watched the Orloj, the 15C anatomical clock, strike 2 pm. Watched as Vanity, the Miser and the Turk shook their heads as the skeleton rang the bell. Death comes to all in the end and nothing can save us. Not beauty, not money, not power. And then the cock crowed and tears filled my eyes.

It must be the jet-lag…ahem.

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I marched across St Charles bridge, listening to the bands, looking at the little stalls of paintings and handicrafts on my way to climb up to the Hradcany (Castle Prague).

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Bent over the edge of the bridge and spent a long time gazing at the Vltava.

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Looked down at the mill wheel on the canal under the other end of the bridge. I painted this scene years ago. Where did I put the painting? It’s probably in storage in the loft of my garage. Now I want to have it in the house when I get back.
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And I touched everything. Felt everything. Looked everywhere. Am one with the city.

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I walked up a street called Neruda. After Jan Neruda, the famous poet who so inspired Pablo Neruda that the later changed his last name to the same. Walked up that street for my late aunt. He was her favourite poet. Came to St Nicholas Church and walked inside. And I stayed for a while inside the vast and holy, pink, Baroque building, full of prayers, and paintings and postulates.

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And then climbed higher, up the the castle and looked down over the red roofs.

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In the castle is the most glorious Gothic cathedral of St Vitus.

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Then down the castle stairs, down thru the town, down to the river and touched the water. Rinsed my hands in it. Like a baptism of sorts. I’ve come home.

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You know, whenever I get here, I’m always here in the summer, and that means road works. I always steal expropriate gently borrow alright steal a cobblestone to take home. I hope I’m forgiven by anyone who sees me doing this. I hope they understand that I need to take a piece of Prague home. A real piece, something that holds the pink light and warm glow of Prague and not some commercial meaninglessness expressed in a mug or tea towel. I need this home to be with me.

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It’s late now, and I just came back the National Theatre to see a unique Carmen this evening. With music played by members of the Prague Symphony, danced by the Prague Royal Ballet, and sung by members of the Prague Opera. All on stage at the same time! I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it was.

I stopped at the open farmers market…

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…and bought some supper.

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Sweet dreams everyone. More of the same…heaven… tomorrow. :D Please forgive me if I don’t answer everyone right away. Time is short and the internet is a bit dodgy. But please know that I feel so grateful to all of you who stop by and look. Big hugs.

Your tired friend in Prague. X

Another announcement! A summer blog tour

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I’ve been invited to take part is an exciting summer at home blog tour featuring some wonderful gals.

It was the brainchild of my friend Kelly and her friend Julie and the line up is as follows:

Wednesday,  June 18th

 On Sutton Place

Stone Gable

My Soulful Home

Thursday,  June 19th

 Country Design Style

Cedar Hill Farmhouse

Lilacs & Longhorns

Friday,  June 20th

 Thistlewood Farms

At The Picket Fence

Jennifer Rizzo 

Saturday,  June 21st

Our Southern Home

Southern Hospitality

Debbie Doos

And ME! Right here, Saturday!

And if you come have a peek on Saturday, I will give away this little announcing Towhee on Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet , (after I finish him up.)

And now, as a thank you for sticking around, here is something I spied today:

This guy has been left double parked.

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Oh, wait…that’s better. :D

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Etsy shop

OMG, my heart’s a flutter.

I finally took the plunge and published that Etsy shop I keep going on about after sitting on my writing desk and staring out of the skylight at the city for about an hour.

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Finally I said to myself, “As soon as a seaplane takes off the water I’ll get to work on the shop.” Then one took off straight away. So I reasoned that that was way too soon and now it has to be a different sea plane to count. Then a second one took off followed by a third one. Boy, I can procrastinate for Canada!

So I made myself get off the desk and open my drawers full of paintings and chose three and photographed them with shaking hands, rushed off to a Dr.’s appointment, came home, sorted out the photos and published the shop!

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So with butterflies and trepidation, I’m going to proudly say, “Lots more paintings on ephemera to come. :D
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Thanks for hanging in there with me. XXXXXXXX……..O

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Hello from Sunday night…which is turning into a Monday morning post again!

Boy oh boy what a glorious, heart-warming, soul affirming weekend I’ve had.

I must say that I’m on top of the world! :D

And wish to send out a great big THANK YOU to the almost 500 visitors to my garden.

After this weekend, each and every one of the 500 wonderful, gentle, garden and art loving souls I chatted with, my fellow artist assigned to show in my garden – the talented Jackie Miller, the incredibly talented musicians – The Land Of Deborah (Saturday) and Justin O’Donohue’s Jazz Trio (Sunday) – who entertained, the volunteers who sat curbside for five hours each day and explained the lay of the garden, my wonderful neighbours who not only showed up early to help me set up and lent me tables and chairs, but also came by both days to chat and support me, and of course, The North Vancouver Community Arts Council who judged my garden and then my art worthy of being seen, will stay in my heart for ever.

And an extremely warm and grateful THANK YOU to all the people who bought my paintings and my photo greeting cards. Thank you for claiming the paintings as your own thru heartfelt memories and experiences. I hope they continue to bring you joy and brighten your lives for many years, and I hope my greeting cards bring smiles to everyone they are sent to.

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My natural predisposition is to be nervous about my artistic talent and my mood spectrum is usually full of misty skies and churning seas, but having strangers…now friends…exploring the garden, marvelling at my crazy planting schemes, laughing at the corkscrew hazel branches as cat deterrent and seedling protectors, asking for eventual cuttings, taking hundreds of photographs, exploring my paintings, asking for painting technique related tips and how-tos, saying such lovely things about my art, stopping with cups of green tea and amaretto or coconut cookie in hand and, in one case, sitting cross legged on the brick circle under the saved apple tree and meditating for 30 minutes, was the greatest personal gift for my heart, which stayed sunny and warm all weekend.

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I met so many like-minded people. I was paired with two other artists, (one of whom couldn’t show at the last minute), so the weekend became a two woman show! But the lovely Jackie Miller, who I only just met but am sure to adore forever, brought a great amount of paintings and colourful flags to the show and we were just fine. I also feel in love with Deborah, who was slated to entertain on Saturday. I took a video of her performing Skyfall for me as a request. (Linking you up at the end of the post). You must have a listen to her soft, perfect voice, and she has some downloadable music on her website!!

Go grab it…I’ll wait.

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You all know how lucky I am to have Chloe by now, but I have to tell you that that sweet child of mine stuck with me for the whole weekend, being cup washer and cookie plate refiller, banker, manager, supporter, promoter and, in two cases, publicity spokesperson for a taped interview and the local newspaper.

How much do we love her?

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She did get a second or two to smell the roses too.

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I couldn’t believe when I looked over the garden on Sunday morning and found a new saved iris had opened and it was completely different from the other five saved varieties. This one is pure, clear amethyst!

Oh, and I have to tell you that game after game of tic tac toe was played. That game board was a big hit.

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Here’s C posing for the newspaper photographer.

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Sunday’s entertainer was Justin O’Donohue and his jazz trio. They were absolutely wonderful.

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I found out that Morgan, while she loved being underfoot or stretching out in the garden, absolutely hates the sound of the big base. What’s up with that?

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But when the band took a break and went into the garden for some tea and cookies, Morgan skulked around the instruments and devised a plan to take back her patio!

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But finally she settled on the warm pebbles behind the chives and went to sleep.

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So then, by 8pm, after treating ourselves to a sushi supper and after washing the tea cups and tea pots, I walked into my silent garden, thanked all my plants, watered the poor, hardworking lawn, and cut a fragrant rose bloom for my bedside table.

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And Morgan curled up on the patio basket and went to sleep in the last of the evening sun.

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Here is a link to Deborah singing “Skyfall” for me, (which I was dying to hear again because I was engaged with some people when she sang it first). I put it on YouTube and Vimeo to make sure you there are plenty of options for you to hear her lovely voice:

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