Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Hard to believe that six months has passed and I haven't so much as entered a word to start the process of a new blog entry!  It would seem that the lack of entry could be due to the lack of anything happening in my life.  NOT THE CASE!!!!  In fact we've been pretty busy and as everyone appreciates...'time flies when you're having fun'!  My time here at RIVERWOOD has been filled with creative and constructive things that satisfy me artistically and physically and that's exactly how I like it!

Back in February when I last wrote a blog entry I mentioned that we would be expecting our first grandchild during the summer.  Well, the delivery date for the baby is, in fact, today! But with a first baby who really knows!.  Needless to say I don't go anywhere without my phone attached to me since the happy event is going to take place in Vancouver and, alas, we are here in Peterborough so rely heavily on Ma Bell and Text messaging, etc. 

When I first learned that a grandchild was expected to help make our small family circle bigger I became busy crocheting small items for little fingers.  I mentioned my 're-connection' with crocheting in my last blog and indicated that I was really enjoying creating things with yarn after so many years of not doing so. And over the months many packages have been carefully wrapped and shipped to Vancouver via UPS.  Here's a sampling of things that have been sent. 






A PLAYFUL OTTER in a DIAPER.  HE CHATTERS BECAUSE HE'S A RATTLE, TOO! are not the only things that have been shipped and sent out west.  We have also carefully packed several large wooden crates (custom made by David) in which we've put a number of oil paintings that I've painted and are suitable for a child's room, two adult sized antique rocking chairs, an antique 'captain's style' high chair, an antique child's rocking chair and a lovely dove-tailed pine box which David made and was used at our cottage for many years to keep Alex's toys and 'collectables' in one place.  The chairs were used in 'Granny's' house and also in our house while Alex was growing up.  There's a certain about of pleasure in emptying out space in our house and sending favourite 'useables' to where they will begin another life with another child; especially when the child will be a cherished grandchild.

With regard to my art I have done little in the way of painting and have done absolutely nothing in the way of stone carving.  In May I was part of the four member show 'Quadrangle' along with Averill Ambrose, Fran Crowe and my sister, Julia Cameron.  The paintings and sculpture I had on display for that show have all been documented in my last entries to this blog with the exception of one and I show it to you now.

"HAYBALES on COUNTY ROAD 6", oil on 14" x 11" stretched canvas 
Somehow a scene such as this is eye candy (yoga for the eyes) for anyone who wants to feel relaxed and forget the whirlwind that is pretty much part of every day life.  We always seem to be rushing here and there doing whatever it is that makes our lives busy and full.  Every so often it's nice just to 'float' with an image that calms our nerves and makes us take a breath before we go on to whatever it is that needs to be done next.  A painting such as this one is something to focus on when you can't actually be in that space physically.  I've actually done several paintings of this same theme and those that now own them have mentioned how calm they feel when they look upon them. In those comments I realize I've accomplished what I set out to do when I first began to paint these small paintings.

Now onto something altogether different.

Over the past couple of years we have had to struggle with an unsightly fence that was built between our property and our neighbour's property.  On the most part we might have overlooked the problem except for the fact that it's 10' high, resembles the sound barrier fence style you see along highways and is right in front of our living room window so it's basically 'in our face'!  

After some deliberation we decided to make use of the space between our house and the ugly fence by adding a den/studio which would be accessed from our living room.  In other words, turn the shaded area (due to the fence) of our side yard into interior living space and eliminate the view of the fence altogether.  And so this is how the project began...

During the winter months, David constructed a beautiful latticed fence. The fence was made in three sections and the lattice sections were hand made using a proportion that was pleasing to the eye with regard to the bottom portion.  When the ground thawed David placed three sono tubes into the earth and constructed the posts.  The fence is 10' tall and covers the 'hoarding' fence and also creates a private 'groto' like area at the side of our house.    


As soon as the fence was up and permanent I went to my friend Patti Peeters, who owns and runs "The Little Front Room", a gift and garden centre just down the road from our house.  She was responsible for making the flower choices based on the colours and textures I like.

While the fence was being built we were working with an architect and an engineer to draw up our plans for the addition 

Also, during this process we had to make out applications to the Otonobee Conservation Authority and the Building Department of Peterborough for the various permits required to build in the city.  All of that was done over a period of time; however, we didn't run into any major problems because we made very sure that we dotted all the 'i's' and crossed all the 't's' before we made application. 

Once the permits were in place and posted on our property we were good to go.  A small backhoe was put into service and the earth and existing rocks on the south side of the house were moved around to make way for the footings.  Then contractor and sub-trades stepped in and worked on the sono tube foundation, the framing and the roofing construction.





Once the heavy work was done (foundation, beams and trusses) David was able to continue the work on his own and while it's been a summer full of more WORK than PLAY for him he has done a magnificent job of making this addition a work of art!  

One day while all the construction was being done I took Rachel (our little Coton de Tulear) for a kayak ride and we paddled around Little Lake which was calm and filled with 'summer' people in various water craft or swimming in the cool water.  And from the viewpoint of the water I captured a glimpse of our addition. 

VIEW from the KAYAK
When the the installation of the roofing material was complete David did a small project apart from the continuous building he was already doing for the project.  He built a wonderful flower stand complete with trellis for the deck which can be seen from the new bedroom door in the master bedroom.  It also acts as a privacy screen for the deck from our neighbour's kitchen window below us. 

Work on the addition progressed nicely and the front of the addition (the street view) now looks complete all but a bit of finishing around the window and a railing around the deck which will be completed after the entire exterior is the Fall sometime!


It was now time for a serious 'away from it all' break!  We made a plan to fly to Vancouver for an unexpected visit with Joanna and Alex.  On July 19th we flew West and spent five days catching up with our 'Vancouver Family'. 


During our stay there was a fun baby shower given for Alex and Joanna!  There were about 30 people, including many children...most of them under 5!  The party was organized by Joanna and Alex's friends and was at A & J's house.  'Surfin' Beach Party' was the theme and the barbecue was going from 2:00 in the afternoon until 9:00 at night.  The weather was great and everyone had a wonderful time...especially the kids because they all got the chance to drink from 'sippy cups', eat yummy food and 'hand paint' little white 'onesies' for the new baby that's soon to join their friendship circle.  The little wearable works of art were pretty interesting looking when they were finished and strung up on a clothesline to dry in the breeze.  There was something for everyone to enjoy but what David and I liked the most was just being there and enjoying the camaradarie between Alex and Joanna and their many friends and their children.


The Mum and Dad-to-be were laden with enough baby gifts (a miniature life jacket, t-shirts with surfing slogans on them, etc.) to overflow their drawers and cupboards but there was much more than that given at the party.  There was a real feeling of connectedness and true friendship in the air as the adults laughed and chatted, watched the antics of the children and enjoyed good homemade beer, wine and flavourful things from the barbecue.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that our once small child has developed into a happy, healthy person who is surrounded by so many interesting and talented friends...and is now creating a family of his own. 

Monday, 18 February 2013


It amazes me that time can go so quickly.  Hard to believe it's been six months since I've entered a post in this blog.  We've been through Thanksgiving, Christmas and a multitude of weekends in between and it's only now that I've come to settle and write a here I am!!! 

An ever changing and beautiful river composition designed by Nature
Like water running over river rock life continues to move as each day passes and our days get filled with whatever comes along and decides to stay with us for a time...perpetual motion, perpetual thought, perpetual action and reaction always making some point in our day interesting, always catching one's attention even for just a moment. 

The reality is in spite of the fact I'm a 'retired' person and have been for as long as I can remember now...the picture of me in an office/work environment completely escapes me these days; although, as I watch television or a movie, I vaguely recall the process of rising each morning with the dreaded thought of moving through traffic and a multitude of people in order to be someplace at a certain time in order to gain 'some purpose' to my day.  Ah, the pay cheque was definitely an incentive and if truth were known I did enjoy my work...the designing and drawing part of it (renovations and kitchen/bathroom designs); not so much the sales part, though.  But those thoughts make me even more thankful and thoughtful today. 

As I think back over the past five months I try to play 'catch-up' with my life to see what I've accomplished, to analyze whether I have 'gained' anything from my endeavours.  At first thought I think that possibly there hasn't been much new or interesting that has filled my days but in actual fact that's not true.  While, none of what I have done over these months has been earth shattering or particularly awesome or even amazing (like skydiving, climbing Mt. Everest, travelling to the unknown, etc.) I have managed to do things I like to do.  So I think of these things and write about them today. 
David talking to Alex and Joanna

VISITING WITH FRIENDS:  For Thanksgiving and again over the Christmas holiday we visited with friends, Catherine and Paul Harding, who live in North Bay and have a cottage on Toad Lake just south of there.  We enjoy visits with them because when we are at the lake or at their house in town we spend hours near or on the water kayaking, swimming or enjoying long walks with our dogs.  The outdoor life is the common denominator that we share and enjoy and we always spend time outside no matter what the weather.  Of course, we missed not being able to see Alex and Joanna, who live in Vancouver, over the holiday season but we talked to them on the phone on Christmas Day and learned that they were well and happy...and they gave us, early and a little hush, hush, great news...they are to have a baby in the summer...our first grandchild!

Our Christmas visit with the Hardings was a little different this year because we normally are with my sister and her family but decided to hit the Great White North (North Bay) for a change and also we wanted to see Will, Paul and Catherine's son and his fiancé, Kat, whom we had not met before.  Their other son, John, is in Germany but there was a telephone conversation with him so all was well there, too.  We had a wonderful time, the weather, while sub-zero and chilly most of the time, was super and picture card perfect and our drive up there and back was beautiful.  Fortunately, we managed to get back home to Peterborough on Boxing day ahead of a big winter storm that closed down many of the highways!!!  Typical for Ontario!

Kat, Will, Grace, Paul, Katherine and, of course, Rachel

PAINTING:  Yes, of course, I still do that and always have a painting on the go; allbeit, I'm occasionally a slacker in this department and there are countless days that go by that I don't even pick up a paintbrush.  However, as I walk past my studio each day I do see a painting on the easel and I do critique it so that the next time I approach it I do it with a 'new eye'.  I've always painted that way.  Oh I'd love to be able to whip off a painting in a couple of days or be so quick as to produce a painting in four or five hours but that doesn't work for me.  I'd love to be less thoughtful about my painting and more spontaneous in my technique but I've tried that and I end up with more mess on my canvas than painting.  So I continue with my methodical approach and my small paintbrushes and continue to enjoy my art in a way that works for me!  

Here are the paintings I've managed to complete since the Summer.  All of them are oil on 18" x 24" stretched canvas.

"CHICKEN LOVE" (inspired by a magazine about farming)

SERENDIPITY (inspired by the song "A Man in a Raincoat")

FLOATBOAT FISHERMEN (inspired by a photo Alex took)

I'm spending 'not enough time' in my studio; however, as I mentioned earlier, I have a painting on the go all the time and at the moment it is also the painting that I take with me when I paint with friends each Wednesday afternoon.  We, Quadrangle (Fran Crowe, Averill Ambrose, Julia Cameron and myself), are having our third group show from May 24th to June 6th at the Kawartha Artists' Gallery and Studio, here in Peterborough, so we are all working towards that goal.  The paintings I have included in this blog are all ones that will be in the 'Quadrangle 2013' show.

The painting below is my 'current' one and is on 16" x 20" stretched canvas.  I had a few false starts with this one; however, I'm finally satisfied with the way it's going and am on my way to completing it.

UNNAMED (probably will be the title from a song) and UNFINISHED
(How I love the sound of a Saxaphone!  As I paint this I always listen to very cool, mellow jazz with Saxaphone being the prominent sound...very inspiring?)

Beyond the paintings you see here I hope to have at least three, maybe four others completed and possibly one or two stone carvings as well.  So you see I have my work cut out for me!!!!  Yikes I've only got about 10 - 12 weeks to produce my work and have it ready for hanging and display!!!!  I hope Spring comes early this year because I'll need some dry sunny days to get my carving done!

WALKING AND PICTURE TAKING:  In between my painting I spend a lot of time outdoors walking with David and Rachel, or sometimes just with Rachel.  Walks are time consuming things, but like golf in the Summer, I wouldn't stop for the world because the exercise and fresh air is SOOOOO GOOOOOD!  While I'm on these excursions, and we have many different places that we walk, I like to take in the scene around me and almost always have my camera at the ready!  I miss our walks on days when the weather is so bad that it's uncomfortable to walk or on days that it's too icy and dangerous under foot; however, they are few and far between so we celebrate every day that we can with an outing!

I can never tire of taking photos of the rivers and streams
...or the beautiful winter shadows,

...or the colours and collages of nature.

My version of a crocheted Rachel without the bushy tail!!!
DOING THINGS I HAVEN'T DONE IN YEARS!:  I have, after probably 30 years or more, resurrected my crochet hooks and now find myself CROCHETING away with yarn and hook each evening as David and I watch television.  I had forgotten how enjoyable it can be and over the past few weeks have developed quite a collection of handmade items.  Here's one that I had some fun with by combining a pattern I found on the Internet, my own imagination and a yarn I'd never used before.  

I find that it's quite an adventure going into the wool/yarn departments of the big box stores or the specialty shops because it's just like going to the market!  There are so many colours, textures and weight types of yarn that it boggles the mind.  I love that the industry has come up with such wonderful varieties of yarn...a wonderful medium to express yourself with.  I just may give up my stone carving altogether and start making yarn sculpture instead...although, I know that would never happen!  I could NEVER REALLY GIVE UP WORKING IN STONE but it's strictly an outdoor thing because it's so messy so I'll definitely explore the yarn thing more! 

Within the next few months I intend on resurrecting my quilting skills as well so that I always have some 'dry/clean project' in my lap that I can be working on in the evenings.  Television is great but it's better when your hands are busy, too.
I've made numerous quilts (hangings and bed-sized) but that was over 25 years ago and none of them were for us so maybe it's time!  I've started to collect ideas for appliqué designs so maybe a quilt or two will show up in this blog one day.

BEYOND THE ABOVE MENTIONED FOR HEALTH AND SPIRIT:  Since golf season ended many, many months ago I have tried, as we all should, to stay as physically active as I can.  I do this to ward off arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and any other malady that I know is inherent in me!  I'm not particularly good at it since I can easily, like all of us, procrastinate and then my time for 'doing' is gone and another day goes by that I haven't done what I said I was going to do.  

Prior to Christmas I started to do YOGA again (had a false start about five years ago) and this time it makes sense to me and while I haven't incorporated it into my life on a daily basis I do go to the Humanistic Yoga Centre here in Peterborough twice a week.  Yoga not only is helping me physically but it is making me feel more grounded and freer.  It's hard to explain really but I now understand why those that are truly 'into' yoga became hooked in the first place.  It's a wonderful way of 'letting go' of all the 'baggage' that one carries around in their head, 'baggage' that ultimately makes your body suffer!  

Through Yoga I've learned how important paying attention to your breath is.  We tend to hold our breath, or not breath properly when we do the most mundane of things which causes us to be tense and feel pressure in our bodies...even people that are retired feel stressed during certain periods of their daily's not just people who work or have heavy responsibilities.  A disagreement with a relative or friend; difficulty finding a parking space; a leak in the faucet, a cat that's driving you crazy by going in and out all day; the knowledge that someone you care about is ill and there are no answers for them, a needy person that leans heavily on your friendship and advice who is a major worry to you; worry about your children and how their lives are going; pain and depression of separation or death of a loved one!!!!  We all have these unbidden stresses...sometimes can be so small and merely annoying but are nevertheless...stresses!!!!!  Sometimes we're not even aware that we're stressed until a muscle starts to scream or our back becomes stiff or our head aches.  I've only just, at 66, begun to understand this 'bottled up stress' thing and am now learning to 'let it go' with each exhalation so that with each inhalation I can be refreshed and ready to cope a more upright and balanced manner.  It's all very refreshing and calming when you actually think about it!  Breath is free, so we should use it well, we should allow it to reach every area of our body from the top of our head, through our heart center, to the tip of our fingers and our toes.  Not only do we need breath to LIVE, we need it to feel ALIVE!  Don't hold it!  Enjoy it!
I've also rejoined the Y and try to get there once or twice a week to do a workout and then swim...sometimes I only manage the swim part but I'm at least doing that!  Swimming for me is like a reward...I don't do it to win a race or set a record on gloat at how many laps I do...I do it to massage and soothe my body and use all my muscles in a therapeutic way.  It always feels really good after I've made the effort.  

The bonus from doing these things...Enjoying Friends, Painting/Creating, Yoga, the Y, and Everything Else In that the winter months become interesting and each day holds something to look forward to.  It's hard to believe that February is ebbing!  Spring can't be far away!

I'm heading to the Y for a swim now...I've written more than enough for today!  For all of you that have had the interest to read through this blog...ENJOY YOUR BREATH, ENJOY YOUR DAYS, ENJOY YOUR LIFE and BE HAPPY!  

Until the next time, Cheers to All!