Tuesday, August 30, 2011

After Irene

We were lucky, very lucky. Others were not so fortunate. Vermont got really whacked, as did the Richelieu Valley, again. The power was off for 5-6 hours so I got caught up on some sleep. The trees are still were they should be, the streams and rivers are back down to spring run-off height; they were really roaring last night, a scary sound given the amount of rain. And this morning when I got out of bed the clouds were running east pulling blue sky behind. And the sun rose again.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waiting For Irene

Like everyone else along the eastern part of the country we are waiting to see how Irene plays out....hope you are all OK.

Seed head blowing on the breeze, [before Irene]

Friday, August 26, 2011

More Weaving

Vines, climbers, wanderers, I love these characters in the garden. Whether it's hops wanting to take over the world or clematis, Boston ivy, grapes or honeysuckle, I tend to let them have their way. A gentle nudge in the right direction, a snip if they don't listen, but basically they are on their own. The results are spectacular as they weave around themselves and their neighbors. Making connections I hadn't dreamed of. But really, I love then because in their weaving they are so beautiful.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More Webs and Synchronicity

Cleaning up my email [sorry if I owe you, I am really far behind but I'm getting there....] I found these wonderful photos a friend had sent of the unexpected side-effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan. Millions of spiders climbed up into the trees to escape the rising flood waters. Because of the scale of the flooding and the fact that the water has taken so long to recede, many trees have become cocooned in spiders webs. People in this part of Sindh have never seen this phenomenon before but they also report that there are now far fewer mosquitoes than they would expect, given the amount of stagnant, standing water that is around. It is thought that the mosquitos are getting caught in the spiders web thus reducing the risk of malaria, which would be one blessing for the people of Sindh, facing so many other hardships after the floods. As I looked with awe at these photos I thought of the the garden last week festooned with spider webs and wonderful installation of Jean-Claude and Christo, Wrapped Trees. Created in 1998, more than three decades after Christo and Jeanne-Claude first proposed wrapping live trees, this project was scheduled for autumn, when leafless branches would enhance the elegiac nature of the work. A shimmering veil-like woven polyester (used in Japan to protect fragile trees from frost and snow) was selected to allow the trees to "breathe." On 13 November, the Christos and their team began the installation, which covered 178 trees (ranging in height from three to eighty-two feet) with 592,034 square feet of polyester secured with over 14 miles of rope. On view for three weeks, Wrapped Trees was extremely dynamic: varying silhouettes of trees moved in the wind with the skeletal framework of branches made visible when the translucent material was backlighted by the sun.
Top Left, In the garden last week, Top Right,  Sindh, Pakistan, 2011, Bottom Left, Wrapped Trees, Christ and Jeanne-Claude, 1998,  Bottom Right, Sindh, Pakistan , 2011                                                           

Monday, August 22, 2011

Seeing Synchronicity

So I am sitting outside the other day under the tiny front porch, in the pouring rain, when I noticed these salt stains on the brick. Intrigued by their cell like shape, almost touching in places and or bleeding into each other, I carried these images back inside, and wanting a longer break from work went on to Facebook. The first image in my feed was this beautiful work of Erin Lawlor  [link here], part of a series she calls dans mes petits papiers. The hair in my arms stood up.  I really enjoy Erin's work; there is a lot of flow and light and the paper sings through.

dans mes petits papiers © Erin Lawlor
Almost next on my feed was a work by another favourite artist, Altoon Sultan [link here] of a new work "Bristles", very different in feel but using the same cell-like structure. Altoon paints with egg tempera on calfs' skin and the paintings are glowing gems. She talks about this particular work and her process on her blog,  August 15, A New Painting, "Bristles". I so like how they touch each other, and at first didn't even notice the cylindrical hole through.
Bristles by Altoon Sultan ©
Then I realized that John was also painting the same cellular shapes, only in his case it's pumpkins [link here]. This is a detail shot of an almost finished work called First and Second Prize. Again, this touching, and almost touching thing was happening.

Frist and Second Prize, detail, John Ballantyne ©

And finally I realized why it was so important to me. It's about our longing to touch, to be part of the whole. I love the promise inherent in the touching in these works, of there being room and space for all, of how it it possible for one to flow into another, about the light that surrounds us all. Cells make up our bodies and maybe our bodies are just cells in that bigger body, the universe.

 “When you get into higher math it emulates the nature of human beings. That you could see longing in mathematics, and elegance and grace. And then he showed me the configuration of an asymptote, the tangents and the curved lines, and the way that they came very close to touching...” (from  Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg  

Thanks so much Erin, Altoon and JB for giving me permission to use your work.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cloud Watching

After spending the past 2 days struggling with John's web site, it was a huge pleasure to sit outside last night and watch the clouds roll by.
Cloud Watching 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Secret Places

There are always places in the garden that I call secret places. Some designed and some just happen. This is one of those. The hops [link here] has had a banner year and run rampant over a honeysuckle, a rose and a yew. And while I have pruned the growth over the yew I have let it have it's way with the rose and honeysuckle.  As you can see it has covered most of the rose and honeysuckle creating a wonderful hiding place, the best kind to find when you were a child. Actually a very fine one to find as an adult. It will only become more beautiful as the leaves turn colour . And when they drop just the bones will be left in their stark beauty. I am hoping the structure will be strong enough to support the snow creating another kind of secret place.

Secret Place

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Greater or Lesser Burdock

I love how plants are named and the classification systems biologists have come up with. It's like reading poetry. What amused me as I did some research on this plant was the listing or title of Greater or Lesser Burdock. Sounds like a titled family or a collection of towns. I think by the size this is Greater but I am not positive. So here is a thistle, a common sight around here that most consider a weed, but one I look forward to every year. Having a Scottish background, there were a number of thistle motifs about the house; my favourite being the stone stamp for shortbread that Mum or one of us kids would press into the top of the shortbread before baking. And did you know that burdock/thistle was the inspiration for Velcro?


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sleeping In

Lying in bed, watching the light and shadow move across the floor, feeling lazy and languid, happy to bathe in this late summer light; knowing I should get up but waiting until I smell the coffee. A wonderful feel of fullness, of contentment of thanks and gratefulness. Thrilled with the show with so many friends there and wonderful feedback. A happy camper.  Thanks all.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Lovely Stack of Reading

Is there anything more pleasurable than a stack of books waiting to be read? For years one of my biggest fears was running out of books. The stack would get low and panic would set in. Now, I could happily re-read most of the books on the shelves and find them new again. And, thank goodness, I have friends who read, not sure if they ever sleep, but they sure do read and are especially good about lending. So the coffee table is piled high and I am starting with the Rose Tremain, one of my favourite writers. If you haven't read Music and Silence, do;  it's a gem. With the show opening tonight all my major commitments are done for the moment so I intend to spend next week reading and cleaning up the studio and gardens. Maybe, even the house.
My lovely stack of books

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Out of Focus

I have a lot of these out of focus photos; maybe I should I call them "Focus Challenged" photos, and I was wondering why I just don't or won't get rid of them. But a voice says "you never know....they might come in handy or be useful." And so they sit, waiting for their time. Well for a few it's their day. I am feeling the need for blues and purples and there is not a lot of that in the garden at this time of year, so when I found these in the pile, so to speak, I said 'YES..this is what I saved you for. Thanks"
Out of focus in purple and blue

Monday, August 8, 2011

Butterfly Time

Spent yesterday in the garden; weeding, cutting back and watching the butterflies flutter about. The echinacea is a big favourite and I was fascinated to see the brownish butterfly on the lower right had lost part of his wing which didn't seem to slow him down at all. The deer have been busy eating the hostas, John saw bear scat at the compost pile [that's a little close thank you very much] and I saw a lynx yesterday morning crossing the road in front of the house. Still can't quite believe I saw it. What a beautiful animal, but what is it doing in the village?
Butterflies in the echinacea

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Casablanca Lilies

There is a beautiful scent wafting about the garden right now. No matter where you walk or work every few minutes it comes by. Especially poignant in the early morning and evening, it says August to me. A friend put me on to these monumental lilies years ago and it was one of the first flowers John grew to love. Over the years I have added more and more, until the dreaded Japanese Beetle made their lives a misery [and mine] and the moles ate the leftovers. There are only 10 left, but they stand about 6 feet tall, often with 5 or 6 huge flowers almost 9 inches wide. They are quite, quite wonderful; but really it wouldn't matter if they were plain. Their fragrance is why I grow them.
Their beautiful curving petals

Lovely light caught in the throat

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Invitation

I can't believe that I forgot to invite you all to the up-comming exhibition. In the chaos of the final preparations I have been a tad scattered and am still finding lists of "To Do". So if any of you are in the area it would be a pleasure to see you. Please introduce yourself, I am the one with the round red glasses and it would be so great to meet. The opening / vernissage is Friday, August 12, from 5 -7 pm, at Arts Sutton [link here] and the show runs 'till Sept 25. Hope you can make it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A BIG Thank-You

The blog will be a year old tomorrow and I wanted to thank-you all for joining me on this journey. I really didn't know quite what I wanted to do when I started this but was hoping that by committing to this notebook it would help me make the transition from garden to studio and studio to garden, that I have made every spring and fall for the past 15 years, easier. I am still not sure that that is a good enough reason for a blog but I am enjoying the journey. I like the discipline of having to write even a tiny paragraph every other day. Writing has always been a huge challenge for me, Miss Dyslexic, so I am thrilled that I have actually written 182 paragraphs. The spelling, even with spell check, may be suspect at times, and my grammar and punctuation still leave a bit to be desired, but I find the whole process quite delightful. Meeting people from all over the world, making friends, even if they are [or maybe that's me] virtual, exchanging information, ideas, interests, is wonderful. So thanks ALL. And for you all, a big bouquet of peonies.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Is my new favourite material; good thing as I have spent the weekend making 43 envelopes to hold each print. I have used it for years to layer between the unframed encaustics, but decided that, because this work was going to the gallery unframed, they needed more protection. And for the first time I worked on a sheet of glassine when I was applying the encaustic and working the surfaces. So much easier that the heavy plastic I used before. But now I have reams of left-over glassine with wax on it that I have saved . Don't know what it wants to be but it's to gorgeous to throw out. Do I hear the word "books"?
Glassine envelopes, print protected in its envelope, big stack of work almost ready to go, used and saved glassine sheets