Wednesday, August 26, 2009

as they see it

Reaching for the door knob, I push my way into the house. Disappointment written clearly on my young face.

"What's wrong?" Mom asks

"My bike is broken and Dad is gone and so is Danny and I can't fix it" I reply in one long breath.

"Well I can fix it" She replies.

My eyes pop in wonder. "You can? Really? But you're Mom, you're a girl"

She takes me outside so I can show her my bike and I learn that girls can do anything and that my mom is a super hero in disguise.

Her hair was longer then, to her shoulders. She was slim and strong and pretty and so smart. I had to look up to meet her eyes. Laughter came easy and she liked my company. I thought she could do anything, she told me I could too, and I believed her.

I often wonder how my kids see me. I don't feel like the grown up I remember thinking my mom was. I giggle now at how relative age is. But I guess I must look the same to them. I had Owen at the same age my mom had me. Sometimes I feel so much the child, still leaning on my parents, learning and finding my way, that it's hard to imagine my kids look to me as I did her. I hope they do. I hope I give them reason to.

So much of this life is perspective. Owen took this picture of me. I wonder who he sees.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The path winds it's way between the trees and the tires of the bike bump and jiggle over the stones, powered by young legs with seemingly infinate energy. Every rock, tree and animal home memorized. On the moss, young feet found their footing. On the stones, training wheels rattled. The life in these woods raised a child.

The trail follows the shoreline of the lake. The sun sets over the tree tops and casts jewels of light off the water in its bid goodnight. The last heat of the day to warm the lake. It starts on the edge of the sand and the echos of swimmers become muffled as it winds arounds stones and trees. On the left, the woods hug the edge of the path, on the right the beach is made of round stones. Plants, native and rare to the area grow up between them. Turn east, don't forget to vere around the big granite rock that has grabbed my peddle more than once, responsible for many scrapped knees. The beach is sandier here. The sun at my back casts gold into the woods and they glow with warmth. The white gravel of the path is a contrast to the dark shadows of the undergrowth. Faded canoes lie in the sand waiting. Turn left up the big hill and the end of the path to re-enter the world of campers. Quiet conversations of families belonging to each tent. The one way dirt road is rolled smooth and bare feet slap on the cool surface.

This world is mine, a treasure kept just for me it seems, that I have soaked up through my eyes for 31 years. Time evaporates here. Maybe I'm older but maybe I'm not. The view is always the same so who can be sure.

Two more lives unfold beneath the tall trees hanging over the path. Memories of this place will mark the passing of their childhood. Their life held in it's embrace, where time stands still.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blanching day

We got back from vacation Sunday to a couple of treats. The first was that there were 3 animals still in the pasture. Cow, bull, horse, big phew on that. Even though the idea of the cow watching us and waiting for the coast to be clear for her to break through the fence and be free (again) is pretty ridiculous, I still worried a tidbit while we were away. We even put extra hay in the grass pasture just to be sure they couldn't use the excuse of being hungry to justify an escape. You can't tell I'm a bit gun shy from the 2 weeks of freedom they stole on the first night they were here, can you?

The second treat was the garden. It must have taken steroids and been working out at the gym. The corn shot up 2 feet, grew tassles and each has at least one ear.

The third treat was that the hay was cut. It's the best treat even though it had the least effect on my personal comfort. If the first two treatas weren't there, I would probably still be riding around the countryside in a lunatic-like state tracking animals, and I'd be hungry. But it has the biggest effect on my happiness. The field looks beautiful, the grass will grow back thicker than before, I have a new place to ride, and now the animals can use that field as another pasture. (Once we finish fencing it.)

When we planted our garden, I was hoping there would be enough of a bounty that I'd be able to freeze string beans, carrots and corn, and eat well into winter. I don't know if I'd say we'll eat well into winter, but for a bit anyways. Not bad for the first year.

After harvesting what was ready, I ended up with way more food than we could possibly eat. So I got to learn how to blanche beans and carrots. Thanks to the beloved Purity cookbook passed down by Mom. Well, actually she bought me one when they republished it (it even has the original black and white pictures in it) because hers was so worn out and she was never parting with it. That book has it all. By the end of the evening, after boiling a pound at a time for 3 minutes, I had about 5 pounds of to be frozen string beans. There are still beans in the garden, but unless we can't keep up eating them fresh, I don't think I'll be freezing anymore. I froze some carrots too, but they aren't in as urgent need of being harvested. We'll eat most of those fresh.

Onions have got to be the easiest thing on earth to grow, and we have lots. Too many. I haven't a clue what to do with them. Get a deep fryer and make onion rings I suppose, and live happy and fat all winter. No really, I think I'm supposed pull them and let the outer skin dry so they'll keep in storage, but I'll have to do some investigating on that. Where to store them is another matter. Martin might just have to dig us a cellar if our garden is going to get bigger each year.

There are only two things that haven't done well in our garden this year. The potatoes and the broccoli. The potato tops prematurely yellowed. I was hoping the yellowing was a sign they were ready, but no. After digging, it's officially 'premature' as the spuds are only slightly bigger than ping pong ball. Add it to my list of things to learn I guess.

The broccoli was doing fantastic. It looked awesome when we left last week. That is until they were attacked. I'm talking about a critter that must have a microscopic stomach but which can eat a gazillion times it's own body weight per day. This little green worm has destroyed our broccoli. Eaten all of it! Each night I can easily pick a dozen of these guys from a plant. They tuck themselves up under the heads and chomp away to their hearts delight.

Broccoli is Martin's favorite vegetable, so maybe I could use this destruction to convince him that we need some sort of defence against these pest. And since we want an organic garden, that defence should be natural. If you're anything like me, you'll say the obvious choice would be chickens! I need to tweak my argument a bit, but I'll break him down. There will be chickens, and those worms will be gone, and we will eat broccoli. Next year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Owen's story

Once upon a time, there was a 5 year old boy named Owen. He lived in a world with blue suns and bright yellow flowers. He was a happy boy.

He lived with his family

and liked to play in his yard under the tall trees.

One day while playing with his friend he met a bad guy. The bad guy said "Grrrr"

That made Owen's friend mad and he chased the bad guy away. Which made Owen happy.

The end.
Story written and illustrated by Owen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My stone

A couple of years ago I had a craving to carve something. Anything. Wood is easy to find, so I thought that would be the obvious choice. But I was stuck. I didn't have the slightest clue how to begin. I didn't have a single tool or even the knowledge of what type of wood one carves.

I call it a craving because that is exactly what it was. It gnawed at me for weeks, months. I could so clearly see in my mind the shapes I wanted, the feel I wanted of it in my hand. It was trapped there in my head (with me trying nothing and all out of ideas) until I talked to my brother. "Why not try soapstone? It's soft and easy to carve." Ding Ding Ding Ding! bells go off at this brilliant simple idea and I am on my way to find soapstone. A couple of impatient weeks later it arrives in the mail from none other than Stoneman, a business in Ontario. (I must say the name was helpful in finding him.) Brazilian soapstone to be exact. One brown block, one green. Both 3 inches by 3 inches by 6 inches.

The fox came from the first stone. He was the one burning in my head, dying to get out. He is the one who started it all, and will always be special, even if he's not my best work. That's how it's supposed to go though, right? These first two blocks also gave me my stargazer, owl and hawk. Like all art, some things just don't make the cut. The owl is not a favorite, and the seal was never finished after a deadly break of the tail. (sorry for the bad pictures, I really need to learn how to photograph these guys)

Since the beginning of my adventure into this hobby, my mom, who loves soapstone and has been collecting pieces for years, has encouraged me. While in Newfoundland she brought back a little piece of stone. (which was somewhat hard to get as they like to keep what they have for their own artists) This stone was completely different than the Brazilian stone. First of all it was raw. Not nicely cut into a smooth block. This was a challenge but also inspiration, since the raw shape determined what it was to become. So the salamander was born. My personal favorite so far.

Lucky for me, my mom and dad like to travel, and while on a 2 month long road trip to the Canadian north, she lugged back an enormous chunk of white soapstone, the size I've never seen but in museums. She usually brings back a stuffed animal from each trip (another story), and come to think of it, that's where the moose came from, but the chunk of rock was way better. It must have weighed 20 pounds, was built like a mountain and just as raw. Hard to believe it was scraps from another artists' work. (I would have loved to see their workshop. I kind of drool a bit thinking of it) I cut the top of the mountain off and made what first came to mind when I saw it. What else would you make out of a white stone from Inuvik, but a polar bear. This guy is sitting in mom's curio, among her collection. His rightful place I'd say.

My hubby cheers me on too of course and right now, I still have stone he gave me, uncarved waiting on the shelf. I seem to go in spurts, and have been in a lull. Sometimes the reason is that I'm just too busy, but a lot of the time is that the picture in my head is missing a piece, and will be left there until I can figure it out. Lately, the stone Mart got for me has been calling and I'm excited to go buy a new blade for the hacksaw so I can start. (I've ruined a lot of saws) This guy will have feet, and a tail, but that's all I'll say. You'll just have to check back to see when I'm done. The fun thing about carving stone, is that I have no idea what the finished rock will look like until it's all sanded and polished up. So even I get a surprise.