Tuesday, 30 April 2013


I bet I’m going to be the only person in the a-z challenge who’s ‘Z’ is for Zamboni.

I thought it was fitting to end the a-z blogging challenge with an a-z story.

The following was my effort in response to a creative writing prompt, to write a 26 sentence story that uses every letter of the alphabet, in order, to begin each sentence.

The timing couldn’t be better, as my story is about hockey and the NHL season is in playoff.

The Hockey Game
            A fight was about to erupt, apparent in the raised voices of the two men sitting at the bar. Blue collar workers, they were enjoying a beer after work, watching the hockey game on the TV over the bar.
            Closeups of the action, in slow motion replay, showed the smooth glide of the puck across the line and into the net. Davis's glove was a split second too late to stop it and prevent the goal. Even, the score was now even, tied two all.
            For the two men at the bar, the trash talk was becoming more boisterous.
            “Goalie was blind to have missed that shot,” said the Leafs fan of the Sabres goalie.
            “How was he supposed to see it with all those guys crowding him in the crease?” returned the Sabres fan.
            “In the crease, in a pig's eye.”
            “Jackass, you don't know shit.”
            “Keep it up, just keep it up and you'll be lapping your beer off the floor.”   
            “Let's keep it down guys,” the bartender warned.
            Mindful of the warning the men turned back to watching the game. Nine minutes to go and the score was still tied.
            “Ouch,” the Leaf fan said, "that had to hurt.”
            “Penalty, what do mean penalty?” the Sabres fan yelled.
            “Quiet down,” the bartender warned again.
            “Referee's got blinders on.” yelled the fan as his team took the penalty.
            “Score's tied, a man advantage, yes, yes, yes,” the Leaf fan gloated.
            “Three minutes left in regulation time,” the announcer said as the action got tense. Up the ice the three Leaf forwards flew, striving for that winning goal. Vinchesky took a shot from the corner and the crowd was in its feet.
            “Where did it go, did it go in?”
            “X marks the spot,” the Leaf fan said triumphantly as he celebrated the win.
            “You lucky bastard, that cheap penalty won you that game.”
            Zero time on the clock, the final horn blew, and the game was over.

Monday, 29 April 2013

By the Yard

Years ago I wrote a children’s story called ‘The Patchwork Pony’. It was about a little girl, with a favourite stuffed pony that she carried with her everywhere. The pony became torn and worn and she went to the grandmother to have it fixed.

Grandma mended it by sewing on patches, made from leftover fabric, to cover the rips and tears. Each piece of fabric was a remnant of something the grandmother had lovingly made for her family. As she added the patches to the toy, the grandmother told the child the significance of each piece.

I was reminded of that story when I pulled my fabric stash from the bins stored under the bed, and from the boxes in the closet. There were the leftover bits from dresses I’d made for my granddaughters, from the Roman blind for my daughter’s living room, the drapes for my grandson’s bedroom.

And I found fabric, cut into strips and ready to sew, for the quilt I was going to make for my son in 1985. We moved from that house before I started piecing that quilt, and because moving was not the only major change in our lives that year, I never went back to it.

It seems I frequently bought fabric for some kind of home project, and moved before that project ever got started. There’s a lovely floral print I know I bought at ‘Covers’ in Toronto. Since I moved from that city in 1999, I’ve held on to that fabric for awhile.

I think, while I’ve been sorting through my stash, that I’ve discovered rules to live by, to control my yardage collecting.

  1. I will not buy fabric just because I like the colour, print, texture or sale price.
  2. I will only buy fabric for a specific project which I’m to start immediately after purchase.
  3. I will not buy fabric in anticipation of a new project.
  4. If rule number three is broken, I will not start said second project until the first is complete.
  5. I will not save scraps and remnants for some day, might use, just in case projects.
I have made many things from my very extensive stash. Last year I made seven quilted door stops from a pattern I found on line. I gave them as Christmas gifts, and made the majority of them from material I had on hand.

I also made flannel pillowcases for three of my grandchildren, complete with their names appliquéd on the edge. The flannel was supposed to be for sleep pants, but the kids grew faster than I sewed and I didn’t have enough fabric.

Oh, and don’t forget the bed caddies. I made one for each of the grandkids, complete with flashlight. And made five more for a friend’s nieces and nephews.

In March I went through my stash, matching prints and solids, and started to make tote bags for the kids. It was going well until the end of the month when I set it all aside to start my blog and took on the a-z challenge.

You’d think with all these projects I’d have depleted my hoard of yard goods. But, alas, no, far from it.

I need to add another rule to my list.

  1. I will not accept donations to my fabric stash from people who are trying to reduce their own. They are enablers with a friendly smile.
I’ve seen pictures of those sewing rooms on line, the ones with the fabric all neatly and uniformly folded, and colour co-ordinated. That would be so nice. It never fails that I’ll get into a project, and too late, find the remnant that would have been just perfect.

Or, I realize the remnant I recently tossed, after hoarding it for years, was the missing print I needed.

It’s all Fabricland’s fault. They have these sales, buy one, and get two free. How can I say no? That’s probably why the remnants in my stash can be measured in yards rather than inches.

I was sewing this morning, a thank you gift for a friend. The tote bags will have to wait until May; I should have lots of time then.  
Except, I have the newsletter from 'Sewing It Up…15 Stash Busting Designs' on my favourites list. No, I will not look. I’ll be strong, and wait until my current project is done.

Well, maybe just a peek.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Xploring the Internet

‘Techno peasants’.

Years ago, that was what a co-worker called herself and those of us who had not embraced the new technology. I like that phrase better than being called a ‘computer illiterate’, a term I read recently.

As computer skills were not one of my job requirements, I sat back and did the ‘old dog, new tricks’ thing and only bought a computer when my daughter entered college.

Moving onward, I did develop some minor skills, and I do mean minor. When I got more serious with my writing I learned how to set things up, you know; headers, paragraphs and page numbers. Like I said; minor skills.

I fumbled my way along, learning things by chance, or by trial and error. I communicated by E-mail, played games and did very vague searches on the internet. For the first few years my system was ‘hunt and peck’ as were my typing skills.

When I decided to try my hand at a novel I followed the ‘write what you know’ school of thought. My story was based in a small tourist town, and with a real place in mind, I did my research by visiting that place, taking photos for future reference.

By the second book I’d discovered how easy it was to do research on the internet. I got better at sorting through the listings to get the information I wanted as I needed to get my facts straight, especially for scientific, cultural or historical data.

It’s the little details that give writing a ring of authenticity. I wanted my stories to be accurate; and my made-up world believable. I quickly learned what sites were most reliable for information, but found other sites that gave me personal feelings, thoughts and opinions that helped shape my characters.

One such character is a World War II veteran. I’ve watched enough war movies, read enough books that I had a good idea of what I wanted his war experience to be. Research gave me the dates, the details, the data, but I learned more about my character through some of the more personal sites.

I read letters and first hand accounts, written by soldiers. And I read a list of requests by family members, looking for information about what their fathers went through in the war.

My NaNoWriMo novel was about a woman, recently widowed. I found articles written by psychologists, but it was the blogs that really let me know what these women were going through.

Writing may be a solitary activity, but, as I’ve recently discovered, if you want people to read what you’ve written, you can’t just click ‘save as’ and move on to the next story. Having a number of novels on the computer may not take up as much space as the paintings I have stored in the closet, but they are still there, occupying space in my mind.

I had to venture out of my comfort zone and that has shown my terrible lack of knowledge about computers and the world wide web. It didn’t help that I was using outdated equipment.

I’ve updated to a laptop and, with the help of my daughter, actually self published one of my books. I’ve been told there’s a formatting glitch on one page that I need to go back and fix, I just need to get my daughter back to make sure I don’t accidentally delete every third page or change the language or whatever. You get the idea.

I’m learning, or trying to learn, and this blog is part of my learning curve.

I’m a reasonably intelligent woman, but I do have a chronic illness that has left me with some cognitive difficulties. It hasn’t hampered my creativity, but has affected my short term memory and my ability to learn new tasks.

I keep copious notes when writing, so I don’t make stupid mistakes like changing a characters name or eye colour. Readers are quick to pick up on mistakes like that. I cut out photos from magazines to reference places in my story, and when in doubt as to some piece of information, I switch to the internet and verify my facts.

It’s so easy to get side tracked while doing research. I can happily browse for hours on end and it’s so nice to come upon some gem of a site that offers good reading, an interesting craft or recipe or needed how-to advice.

I had to get the book ‘Blogging for Dummies’ to really understand this whole blog thing, now I have to get a similar book for formatting and self publishing.

I’ll get there yet.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Wild Urban Visitors

I much prefer chipmunks over squirrels. Growing up with Disney and his personable Chip and Dale, I’ve found chipmunks more appealing than a squirrel with a smart mouth and a moose for a best friend. But the thing is, the chipmunks don't visit and the squirrels do, so I'm leaning toward squirrels of late.

My living room window looks out over a grassy area on the south side of my apartment building. There is a garden area along the foundation and trees run thick along the lot line some twenty feet away. There are no outside doors from the apartments so I think the squirrels feel they have squatter's rights to this outdoor area. No one goes there except to weed or water the gardens, or to fill the bird feeders. I say bird feeders but it's apparent the squirrels have also taken ownership of the feeders and reluctantly share them with the birds.

The first winter I lived here I put peanuts on the window sill and watched as the squirrels would stuff their mouths with as many peanuts as possible and scurry off to hide them. It became the thing to do, especially when the grandkids were here to visit.
When I ran out of peanuts I went to crackers, bread and even cookies. They seemed to like my homemade oatmeal cookies the best. One day I put out crackers with peanut butter.  I thought a peanut's a peanut, so what the heck. I watched my visitor eat the cracker and suddenly...choking, my squirrel's choking.  You could see him gag...ack, ack, ack...most likely with peanut butter stuck on the roof of his mouth.

I guess a peanut is not just a peanut, so no more crackers and peanut butter, probably too high in sodium anyway.

My favourite chair and my computer desk are beside the window and I love to watch the antics of the squirrels and the birds at the feeders. One window feeder is accessible from the window sill and seems to be exclusive to the squirrels. They sit on the sill and stretch to the feeder. The other window feeder is hanging on a shepherd's hook and is the birds' domain. 

The squirrels' feeder ran empty this week and they, greedy souls that they are, moved to the bird’s feeder.  This requires that the squirrels shimmie up the pole, hang by their feet and balance with their front paws on the feeder.  Not an easy thing, but they are persistent.  At the very least their antics knock bird seed to the ground so they can ground feed.

The other day I was sitting in my chair, my cup of tea at hand, engrossed in my book when I heard a noise at the window.  There was my friend; bushy tail and black beady eyes, front paws against the glass, looking in the window...looking right at me. 

I found myself putting down the book and looking back at him saying “OK, OK, just give me a minute.” I live alone and I talk to squirrels. I can think of worse things, I could be talking to myself.  I proceeded to go to the cupboard and gathered a snack for my friend and laid it out on the window sill for his dining pleasure.
When I sat back down the thought suddenly struck me. “Who's training who here?” I always thought I was training the squirrels, to come to my window in response to food. But now I'm thinking that the squirrels have trained me, when they come to the window I get them food.

It's like that chicken and the egg thing, which comes first. Did I train the squirrels to come? When they do, I feed them and that's their reward for coming, like some Pavlovian experiment. Or, are they sitting up in their tree thinking they've trained me, to feed them every time they come to the window?  
That can't be true, squirrels don't have that kind of thinking, do they? No it's simple, I put the food out and they come, simple action and reaction with a predictable result.  I'm still in control; I'm a superior being with the ability for rational thought. But the squirrel is wild; a wild, urban creature, and, there are a number of them out there in the trees.

So I am going to err on the side of caution and continue to feed them.  I will continue to think it's all my idea, as I'm the one with a measurable intellect and I will continue to keep my lower windows shut, just in case.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


One of the problems with having a chronic disease, is the unpredictability of it. I've scheduled my posts a day early and have worked hard to maintain the alphabet schedule.

I apologize, but today was a day where just getting around was an issue, let alone being creative. I hate this brain fog.

Since writing is one of my favourite things, I'm posting the beginning of my book, Death by Drowning, published in E format on Amazon.

Hopefully I'll feel better in time for 'w'.

Death by Drowning

For weeks Allison had been living with this unreal, eerie sense of darkness; leaving for work in the dark and coming home at night in the dark, with the limited hours of daylight shrouded in the grey of a coming or waning storm.  Coming home to a dark and empty apartment had become oppressive.  She felt trapped, unable to escape and with nowhere to escape to.
It had been the same forecast for weeks on end, ice and snow, ice and snow.  One storm front after another had moved in and left the area blanketed in accumulated banks of snow with continual storm watch warnings, blizzards with sub zero temperatures and wind chill conditions.  It had been a constant battle of the elements, forcing one to stay off the treacherous roads, to stay home, to stay isolated and alone.
For many years water had been her go-to place in times of stress.  She would go to the lake and watch the waves and feel her mind clear and her feelings of stress lessen.  Water in nature, whether a lake with its waves beating upon the shore or a river's steady flow of water eroding a path over time, water was in constant motion.  There was something endless and ongoing about water that was comforting in its infinity. 
The frequency and duration of her trips to the lakeside park had been increasing and her only clear thought, over and over, was that life was no longer worth living.  Allison felt so alone, so terribly alone, even though she had been emotionally isolated most of her life.  She decided she no longer wanted to live a life, her life, unloved and lonely.  On this day, another in a seemingly endless number of days, miserable and cold, blurred and grey, she would end her life, in the water, in the lake from which she had always been able to find comfort.  At this time and place, she just didn't care anymore, and with the decision made she felt at peace.
It was early March; the ground still covered in the remnants of yet another snow storm and the lake a dull reflection of the colourless sky above.  She decided she would walk out into the icy waters, let the water take her life, and let her spirit float free upon the waves.
She parked her car up the road and walked to the beach.  There was a small waterfront park at the mouth of the river, deserted in the winter's cold.  Further along the shore, away from the river, was the parking lot where she had sat, hour after hour, day after day, for what seemed days on end.
There was no beach there, just a rocky shoreline that was out of sight and below the level of the parking lot.  The steps leading down to the water's edge would take her to the path that ran parallel to the shore.  The houses situated along the lake were hidden behind trees, a hedge or a fence.  A wall, natural or man-made, meant to maintain their privacy, at the same time would provide her the privacy and isolation that she would need.
The wind was particularly harsh and bitter, stealing her breath when she breathed the cold air in.  She watched the movement of the water, the repetition of wave after wave coming to shore and felt a calm come over her, and her anxiety lessened.
Seeking shelter from the wind she approached the children's play area with its wooden play structure, a make believe fort, built above the ground where, at the top of the slide, it was fully enclosed on the top and two sides.  Allison climbed the steps and sat, shoulders hunched against the cold, arms wrapped around her knees, seeking a moment's respite from the blast of icy wind coming off the lake.  For that moment it was as if time stood still, and as she looked out over the water, the waves, it was quiet, it was calming.
She didn't know how long she sat watching the water, watching the snow as it came down in gentle flakes to be buffeted about by the wind.  She wanted to make sure she was alone, that her presence was unknown, before she followed through on her final decision and took that final action.
It seemed to get darker with the snow falling, and she couldn't see the horizon for the world was turning grey all about her.  The only sound she heard was the roar of the waves, unrelenting in their struggle to reach the shore, pounding on the ice amassed from months of waves freezing on the beach fighting that same winter battle.  The incessant pounding seemed to throb inside her, was part of her, echoing the blood pounding through her body.  It was time.
Before she could leave the shelter of the fort a car pulled into the parking lot and stopped in the far corner, its silver colour blending into the grey sky, almost obscured by the snow.  Was that driver also seeking comfort by the water?  Maybe she was not as alone as she had thought, maybe there were other lonely souls seeking...seeking something.
Allison watched as the driver got out of the car, a young woman, her bright pink parka the only colour in an increasingly colourless world.  Slamming the car door the woman strode over to the fence separating the parking lot from the lake below, turned and perched on the post, arms crossed over her chest, glaring at the man slowly walking along the road and into the parking lot.
“How stupid can you be?” he demanded as he approached the car.
“What are you going to do?” she yelled back, jabbing her finger at him as she jerked upright, her manner and tone confrontational.
“I'll take care of it,” he replied as he walked toward her, reaching out a hand.  The woman slapped the gesture away and raised her hand to slap again, but he caught her wrist before she made contact with his face.  She stepped back, planted her hands on his chest and shoved.  He pulled her close, holding her tight while she continued to struggle, talking quietly to her to calm her down.  When she ceased to fight him, he placed his arm across her shoulders and speaking quietly, guided her to the steps leading to the frozen, rocky shore.
Allison watched the couple disappear from view, wondering why they had gone down to the water,
knowing they would be back.
She climbed down from the fort and slowly made her way, on frozen feet, along the road, past cars that had not been parked there when she had arrived. The time and place to execute her plan was out of the question now, her 'aloneness', her anonymity...gone, altered by the arrival of strangers.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

An Unexpected Surprise

As I write this the sun is shining, the birds are flitting back and forth between the feeder and the trees, and the squirrels are fighting over the birdseed spilled on the ground.

The thermometer in my window says 25 degrees centigrade, but it’s not a true reading as the sun shines on it directly. The air is cool, refreshing, and having the window open feels wonderful.

As a craftsman, I frequently make gifts for people, and have not always felt that the thought and effort required to make that gift was appreciated. When I did a season of craft fairs a few years ago, I heard people comment that prices were too high, or they could buy it cheaper.

And that’s a shame, as I feel there’s nothing nicer to receive than something original and made by hand. Sounds like my topic should be unusual, but it’s not. It’s about a cherished and much unexpected gift I received from my brother.

“B” is for brother, or so he told me after my post for the second letter of the alphabet. He felt he’d been slighted, when ‘b’ was for birdfeeders.

So, John, this one is for you.

My brother is a creative genius with Photoshop. I have long been a fan, and have absolutely loved the photos he has created over the years.

He has a new generation of fans, in my six grandchildren, for who wouldn’t love to see themselves in a fantasy scene, or with their favourite superhero.

Years ago he made a montage of his life. He took a photo of an old work bench and added all the bits and pieces of things important to him. It’s too much to take in with one viewing, for there are things obvious, like his computer, his television with the hockey game on, his favourite brew, and of course, his wife and family.

But there are also the subtle things, like his beloved cartoon characters, his camera, Snoopy [personal story there I won’t go into], and the Beatles. It’s like his personal Hidden Object game.

So, a few years ago, when he gave me my own desk, depicting my life, I was moved to tears. I understood how long this project had taken, the effort that went into making it, and I was overwhelmed.

It’s nice to know someone understands you like that, knows what you’re about.

This is my unexpected surprise. Thank you, John.

Check out his photos at www.johnkernsphotography.file.wordpress.com

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

T is for Timbits

We are a family addicted to coffee, and in particular, Tim Horton’s coffee.

Whenever I would visit either of my children I'd bring along a tray of coffee for the adults; and a snack pack of Timbits for the kids.

One day I arrived at my daughter’s for dinner, pleased to see my three year old grandson race across the yard to greet me. He stopped dead in his tracks when he noticed my hands held only coffee, no red box of treats.

He held his hands out in question, a look of shocked surprise on his face. “No Timbits?” he asked. I was disappointed to realize I was so predictable, and that I took second place to a doughnut.

My visits aren’t associated with doughnut holes anymore, but with the home baked goodies I regularly make for the family.

I’m constantly trying new recipes and found one on the ‘What’s Cooking?’ e-mail I get from All Recipes. It’s called a donut muffin, and they claim it tastes like the cinnamon doughnut holes you get from the donut shop…and they’re right.

I made a batch, simple and quick, and sent it home with my daughter. Her son looked at them, tasted one, and simply stated, ‘they’re Timbits’.

Thank you ‘What’s Cooking?’ The donut muffin has replaced cinnamon buns as a family favourite, and my grandson is suitably impressed I can make a Timbit.

You’ll have to try them for yourself.

The recipe can be found at www.allrecipes.com. A search for donut muffins will give you 3 different recipes. The 41/2 star recipe, that looks like my photo, is the one you want.


Monday, 22 April 2013

S...Studio Space, a Work or Sewing Room

I am a dedicated artist, craftsman, and writer.

Over time I have amassed a collection of materials to support me in my creative endeavours. In my small space I have a drafting table, a sewing table, and a computer desk. Oh, and an ironing board, two filing cabinets and a multitude of multi drawer storage units.

I have fabric, and yarn and a plethora of paper.

I have painted canvases, blank canvases, frames and framed art. And to paint with I have acrylics, craft paints, pastels, watercolours and coloured pencils.

When it comes to arts and craft supplies, I am a hoarder. I know as soon as I get rid of something, it will be just what I need for my next project.

I have ‘How To’ books and magazines on painting, collage, paper crafts, making paper and scrapbooking. That’s just the first bookcase. I also have books on knitting, crochet, quilting, sewing, and decorating.

Do you love Christmas? I love Christmas, and have many books on decorating the home, making decorations for the tree, making wreaths, anything and everything for the holiday season.

What else? Dolls. I love dolls and have made hand crafted dolls, stuffed animals and doll clothes. I have books, of course I do.

There are four Billy bookcases from Ikea in my living room, and they are full, craft books on the bottom, novels on the top, with my angel collection thrown in here and there.

Whew. If you think it’s busy around here you’d be right. I’m in the midst of making quilted gifts for Christmas, have three sweaters at various stages of completion, and am finishing the first edit on my NaNoWriMo book.

Oh yeah, and now I’m blogging.

They say variety is the spice of life, and creatively there’s not much I haven’t tried, or want to try.

But I yearn for a large, airy, organized space in which to work. It would have a large work table and storage galore, with cupboards to hide, in an organized way, all my stuff.

In a perfect world, my studio would be on the lake, with a large covered veranda overlooking the water.

In summer, I’d work with the garden doors open, the warm air gently blowing. When I need a break I’d take my coffee out on the veranda, sit in an old wooden rocking chair and enjoy the view. In winter, I'd have pulled that old rocker inside and I'd sit by the fire, all cosy and warm.

Space is a luxury, but it’s not a necessity to the creative spirit.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

R...Rice Heating Bags

A few years ago, on Mother’s Day, my daughter gave me a microwavable, rice filled heating bag. It’s long enough to hang around my neck to ease the pain and stiffness I suffer after a day of writing…or sewing, or painting.

Available commercially in many different sizes and with a variety of fillers [other than rice], these bags serve a dual purpose. They can be stored in the freezer to use as a cooling pad, or warmed in the microwave for the heat.

As I suffer from chronic pain and frequent muscle spasms, heat is my first choice for relief. I think it works physically to relieve pain, and the warmth offers a sense of comfort that I find relaxing.

Used to ease sore muscles and the pain of fibromyalgia and arthritis, the bag could also be used to warm the bed and keep your feet warm at night. I’ve even heard of using them to keep casseroles warm when transporting or at the table.

A couple of minutes in the microwave can give up to an hour of safe warm heat. The safety factor is an important issue. Before I had my rice bag I used an electric heating pad, and fell asleep lying on it. Big no no.

The heating pad was old with a temperamental temperature gauge, and I’m embarrassed to say I got quite a burn from a ‘hot’ spot. I’ve learned my lesson there, though I have a new electric heating pad, it has an automatic shut off switch.

I’ve listened to friends and family, with their varying complaints of pain, especially in the shoulder area, and decided to design a better bag. There are numerous DIY tutorials on the internet for making these heat bags, with lots of patterns and helpful hints.

So far I’ve done 5 samples, designed to give heat relief to the neck and shoulder, and have loaned my prototypes out for feedback on their efficiency.

Filling the chambers of the bags with rice was a bit of a challenge, even with a funnel. I’ve found rice all over the place and other than the obvious, it’s messy, I hate suddenly seeing a few grains that I missed here and there.

It’s a mind association thing. I love crime shows and watch television while I’m sewing. Do you know how many shows have to do with decomp, and maggots? And do you know what a grain of rice looks like? Creepy.

At any rate, I know what my Christmas craft will be this year. Everyone will get a Bed Buddy for those cold winter nights, a small bag for warming hands, and a larger bag, designed by me, for neck and shoulder pain.

I just need a way to store this 8 Kg bag of rice I bought that’s a bit more spill proof.

Friday, 19 April 2013

A Quilt on a Brass Bed

Sunlight, shining through the lace curtains, bathed the room in dappled shadow. It has an old world feel; walls painted a soft green, the woodwork a gleaming white, and the pine plank floor covered in a multicoloured rag rug.

I see the antique bed against the far wall, old and brass, dull and tarnished. It’s covered in a quilt, pieced together by my great grandmother’s hand.

Fabric scraps, cut and sewn together, create a riot of colour and pattern. Ginghams, checks and tiny florals repeat in a geometric patchwork design.  Everyday fabrics reworked into something practical, yet something to be cherished.

I can’t imagine the number of painstaking hours required to create this beautiful quilt. The long winter evenings spent cutting, piecing and sewing.

Did she know that she was creating a family heirloom? Or did she simply do what was practical; making something functional to keep her family comfortable and warm.

The colours have faded over time, but the sentiment has stayed strong. This patchwork quilt is a gift from the past, to be valued and treasured.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


Purge v to rid of people or things considered undesirable or

This is one of the meanings of purge, according to The Oxford Paperback Dictionary, 1988 Edition.

Why am I using a 1988 edition of a dictionary, you ask? Because I hoard books, never throw anything out, and have a sentimental attachment to this particular copy. I bought this dictionary for my son, and it didn’t move out of the house when he did.

There are certain times of the year that lean toward purging activities. I think of the fall as a time of new beginning. The summer is over, school starts once again, along with all the activities that have been on hold for the previous two months.

Remember the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’?” There’s a scene where the character, played by Tom Hanks, goes on about autumn, buying school supplies, new pencils or something.

I always liked that part, as I feel the same about the fall season. I like getting back into the normal routine, I like the change of season, coloured leaves and layered clothing. And I like to organize my place with a mini purge.

I put away the summer clothes, get rid any accumulated junk, and prepare to be busy. All the clubs start meeting regularly, there are courses and events to attend, and life begins anew.

I do another mini purge after the Christmas holiday. It seems to fit in with the packing away of Christmas decorations, finding a spot for gifts received, and like the fall, settling back into preholiday routines.

But now it’s spring, time for the big purge. Spring Cleaning!

I love you, Mom, but you would
be the first to admit you weren’t
much of a housekeeper.

My mother was an artist,
and I learned from the best,
how not to clean.

My childhood was spent in the city, but when I married and moved to a small town I learned what spring cleaning was all about.

Man, these country women can clean.

I’ll admit, at my age, I’ve reverted to my old ways. I even have fridge magnets to support my position.

Everyone should have a fridge magnet to support their life views.

Yet my faith in my magnets is being sorely tested. I have too many unfinished projects, too many craft supplies, and too much, dare I say it, paper.

Clutter n 1. things lying about untidily, 2. a crowded untidy state.

Clutter is a state if mind. All the things we do not use, or do not wear…but keep, in case they might come in handy one day, constitutes clutter.

You know the stuff…inherited objects or gifts you feel guilty about parting with, useless kitchen gadgets, clothes we might ‘one day’ wear again, and books.

According to Feng Shui, clutter represents stagnant energy. I have to admit this is true as I look about my place. I see three out of five blown light bulbs in the bathroom, scum marks on the tub, and dirty dishes on the counter.

It would only require a few minutes of my time to attend to any of these chores, yet I’ve let them sit. And I want to start spring cleaning?

The burden of all this ‘stuff’ is wearing me down, but I will get the job done this time.
I have purpose.

Purpose n objective; intention; aim; function; 
                 resolution; determination.

I need to start with something small, like a drawer or kitchen cupboard. And here’s the biggie, I need to complete that task before moving on.

One day at a time.

Hey, I think I have a fridge magnet that says that. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Oreo Cookies

O   Oreo Cookies

There’s a knack to eating an Oreo, milk’s favourite cookie.

Hold the cookie, with two hands, top and bottom, fingertips only. Carefully twist the biscuits in opposite directions until you feel them release from the crème filling.

Do not squeeze too tight, you don’t want to have it break into pieces.

Anticipation abounds.

Raise the cookie, covered in white filling to your mouth, and slowly drag your tongue over the surface. Creamy and sweet, lick each biscuit, savouring its unique taste.

Place the two cookie pieces together, dunk in a glass of cold milk and enjoy.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

N New Notebooks

I absolutely love paper. Any kind of paper.
Binder paper, art paper and scrapbooking
sheets, I love it all.
Journals made from hand made paper

I’ve even wanted to try making my own paper, and
have numerous books on the subject to inspire me.

My interest is two fold. As an artist, I use all kinds of
paper in my mixed media collage, and as a writer, I’m
constantly writing notes for story ideas.

But, there’s nothing I find more appealing than a brand
new notebook.

But, there are notebooks, and there are notebooks. Spiral notebooks, simple bound books,
and then there are the beautiful notebooks, journals I suppose, with lovely covers like
works of art.

There’s just something about opening a notebook, to that first blank page, and relishing
the possibilities. I have a collection of such notebooks. I’m afraid to put pen to paper
and not be worthy.

I know it must seem ridiculous, keeping empty notebooks on my bookcase shelf with
my other books, but they’re just too pretty to stash away in some drawer.

But my collection was getting unruly. Too many people were giving me notebooks
as gifts, and I was having a hard time not adding to my supply when I found one with
an intriguing cover.

The problem is, you want to keep these notebooks you’ve been coveting. So you have
a choice; leave it empty, or fill it completely with something worth keeping.

Too many times I’ve started to use one of my notebooks, and not kept up with what I
started. Once you rip out pages, it’s just not the same.

So, I had to think, what could I use these
notebooks for?

Words, I thought. All those bits of song lyrics, quotes, poems and just interesting words. I’d have my own book of inspiration.

One down, three to go.

Is there anything better than a brand new notebook?

Monday, 15 April 2013

Mixed Media Collage

I grew up surrounded by art, and first learned to paint hanging around my mother's home art studio. I gave it up when I got married and turned to crafts. It seemed easier, with a full time job, a husband and two kids.

To make a long story short, life happened, and things changed. I returned to painting, finding inspiration in one of my mother's abstract pieces, done completely with layered images and paper.

And so I discovered collage.

collage n. an artistic composition made by fixing bits of paper, cloth, string, etc. to a surface.

I experimented, using photographic images of cemetery angel statues, along with layers of paper and paint. I began with a base of collage, added different painting mediums, and created works of multiple layers, texture and colour.

After a busy work week, Saturday night was my 'art' time. Usually I selected an angel photo and went to work, with little planning or preparation. I had no great ambition beyond making something pleasing to the eye. It was a hobby, not a vocation.

Until 911. 

I felt compelled to express my feelings and reactions to that horrible event, and did so with art and poetry.

The first 911 painting I did took weeks of planning. I searched for just the right combination of images and paper, and played with various designs and compositions, before adding the first dab of glue or paint.

That painting was a turning point. I was not a hobby painter anymore, I was an artist.

No longer could I sit down to paint without some idea of what I hoped to accomplish, what I was trying to convey. 

My work is very abstract, and doesn't appeal to everyone,
and that's okay.

I use images, colours, and sometimes words in my mixed media collage. I collect old books and used magazines, along with whatever paper I might find that looks interesting, or might create some unusual  texture.

Angels are no longer a focus, not since I became fascinated with old buildings left to ruin. I began a series of paintings using photos of some aspect of abandoned buildings, like a window or a door.
I still like to experiment, for, like everything else, there are many new products and techniques available, like gel mediums and gel transfers.

It keeps things interesting, and constantly challenges my creativity.

I have an drafting table in the corner, and on the wall behind it hangs my mother's painting...in memory, and in appreciation for the inspiration.

Thank you, Mom.