Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Music Under The Stars

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' ... into the future...

Can't blog tonight, I'm down on the lakefront watching a concert at the Molson Amphitheatre. It's the Steve Miller Band, with Colin James as the opening act. Oh yeah, we're gonna rock and roll in the outdoor amphitheatre. Maybe not quite under the stars since our tickets are under the covered portion but still, it should be a great show.

There's just something about a summer concert outdoors. It's too bad the weather has turned a little cooler but what are you gonna do? Maybe it's a voodoo thing!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How Beautiful

Remember the other day when I shared a couple of black and white photos of my grandmother? My aunt posted this one on Facebook and I had never seen it before. Isn't it beautiful? Circa 1930. I am totally loving it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

60 Days and Counting

I can't believe the trip to France is only 60 days away. That seems so close! It was several months ago when I first started keeping track, I can't even remember exactly when. Oh wait, thanks to the beauty of blogging, I can just look back in the archives and see that it was March 31, 2009 when I learned Kate was planning this trip and about August 3, 2009 when I started the official countdown, so yes, that does seem like a long time ago now, doesn't it?

But now it's only 60 days away and I know the time will zoom past because it's the beginning of summer and summer always goes by too quickly. I don't really want to hurry it along but at the same time, I've got lots of fun things planned that I am looking forward to doing over the next couple of months before my trip, so that will help pass the time.

For fun, I searched for images of Durfort on Google. It's a bit confusing as there seem to be at least two, if not more, places with the same name. The one we are going to is the copper village, not the village with the chateau and the keep remains.

One of the photos I found was this one from Gwen Gibson's website - Gwen is the owner of La Cascade, where we'll be staying.

I was also interested to find this picture online of a quaint little village I discovered on my last day in Durfort in 2008, on my way back to the village after dropping Kate off in Toulouse. I first wrote about this place here:

I think of this picturesque place often. I was there midday and there was almost no one around, just me and a couple who were lunching under a shady tree with their motorcycle beside them. It was as if everyone else was away or having a siesta on that hot and sunny day. I had never seen a clock tower like this before and there it was, just off the main highway and yet seemingly miles from the rest of civilization. It is definitely on my list of places I'd like to go back to visit when I'm there again this year. Depending upon which one of us is driving the rental car, I'll probably make Kate go see it on our way to Durfort from the airport on day we arrive!

Unfortunately, the website where I found this photo is written in French and even though it has buttons that suggest it can be translated into various languages, they don't appear to be working so I still can't discover enough about this peaceful place. I shall just have to wait another 60 days or so to learn more.

Last but not least, I bring you this photo is from the Flickr photostream of aiwaysoutside. It is a fantastic photo of the quench flowing through Durfort, as it looks at night from a very low angle. You just have to click on the link to see it:

In a mere 60 days, I will be arriving in Durfort and very soon thereafter, probably lying on the street trying to take a similar photo!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My B Line

For my fellow craft monkeys, here's a picture of the B Line stamps I picked up at Bizzy B the other night:

And yes, I have used 3 of them already! I just can't show you how I used them yet because (hint) I'm making ATC's for the July 9th swap night.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Escape into the Clouds

On such an unsettling day in Toronto - one in which we have witnessed violent protesters, burning police cars, smashed windows, police in full riot gear, tear gas - I feel the need to escape into the clouds and think of more peaceful times.

I took these photos last Saturday night as the sun was starting to set. My sister was driving and I made her stop the car so I could take these first few shots:

Then, as we drove along, I could see these amazing cloud formations in the side rear view window and took this shot out the window as we drove along:

I hope tomorrow will be a more peaceful day in our fair city.

Friday, June 25, 2010

B Line at Bizzy B

Last night, the Bizzy B stamp and scrap store hosted an event to introduce the new line of rubber stamps from B Line. What a fun evening it was!

When I arrived, everyone was seated around the big table at the back of the store, which was covered by black tablecloths covering some rather lumpy configurations. When those cloths were eventually removed, lo and behold, the table was covered with dozens of rubber stamps, each one more intriguing than the last. Everyone immediately began picking up their favourites and moving around the table to see what else was on offer. Here's a picture of my friend Marilyn (on the right) and another lady and half the table's worth of stamps:

After we had all had a chance to have a good, long look at the new stamps, Cheryl and Daniza began teaching the "make and take" portion of the evening.

At Cheryl's work space, we made tags with a seashell theme using glitter and Distress Inks. Here's what the finished piece looked like:

At the same time, Daniza was teaching two different tag designs at the big table, both using the same quotation: "Time is a dressmaker, specializing in alterations." As it happens, a friend from work was turning 50 today, so I made this first tag for her, using a stamp that featured a row of ladies in various styles of vintage dresses:
This second tag I am going to keep for myself. The quote is the same but the design is completely different. The stamps used were various ones with a sewing theme - a measuring tape, an ornate pair of scissors, a needle book and a package of buttons, to which we glued actual buttons. I especially liked the lace stamp at the bottom of the tag, balanced by the piece of real lace tied to the top of the tag. Daniza designed both tags, such a clever girl.

Many thanks to Barb, Daniza and Cheryl for hosting a very entertaining and productive evening!
If you'd like to see the full B Line collection, you will find it here: If you see something you like, just call the folks at Bizzy B ( and they can order the stamp(s) for you. Or drop by the store to see them in person - they don't have every single one but take it from me, the ones they do have are pretty fabulous!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Century Ago

If my grandmother, Laurella, were alive today, she would be receiving a letter from the Queen congratulating her on being 100 years old. In her honour, I wanted to share these two photos I have of her, from days gone by.

This first one is of my grandparents and my mom. I like the way Grandma is trying to get my mom to look at the camera, and the fact that you can see the shadow of the photographer (who appears to be a woman wearing a hat) on the ground at their feet.

This is my mom, Grandma and my aunt. The pigtails and the gingham dress my mother is wearing always make me think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz but in spite of that, it really is a sweet photo of the three of them together.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Day The Earth Moved

Torontonians are very much on edge this week as the G20 Summit approaches. As if we don't have enough to worry about, what with all the road closures (we've been told to expect "significant delays" as various motorcades make their way back and forth to the airport over the next few days), the threat of violent protest actions, downtown businesses closing for the duration, increased police presence and several subway disruptions already (including one today during rush hour, when an "unaccompanied" suitcase was discovered on a subway platform), compounded by today's warnings about potentially severe weather moving into our area tonight (tornado, anyone?), imagine our shock and slight panic when we experienced a wee bit of an earthquake this afternoon!

It hit about 1:45 p.m. I was sitting at my desk and I could hear the window blinds in my neighbour's office rattling against the window, which made me wonder what he was doing moving them around like that. By the time I had formulated that thought, my chair started to shake, I could feel the building swaying around me and I thought, "Uh oh, we're having an earthquake!" I immediately moved to stand in the doorway of my office because that's the only earthquake safety tip I know but by then, a mere 30 seconds in total, the excitement was over. Right away, several of my colleagues stepped out of their offices to say, "did you feel that??" and to our surprise, several others said, "feel what?" Apparently, those of us with offices on the outside perimeter of our 5th floor location felt it more strongly than those sitting on inside locations.

One of my co-workers claimed the building was shaking because Air Force One was landing at the nearby airport. I tried to explain to her that AF1 is just another jet plane, dozens if not hundreds of which land at the airport every day, but she wouldn't believe me.

This tremor measured 5.0 on the Richter scale and was felt in Ontario, Quebec and New York. The epicentre was located about 60 km north of our nation's capital, Ottawa, in a somewhat remote area so not too much damage resulted and so far, luckily, no major injuries or deaths reported. Apparently earthquakes of this magnitude are felt along this particular fault line about every 20 years or so. It certainly got everyone buzzing here in Toronto.

Makes you wonder if the G20 organizers are prepared for a natural disaster, doesn't it? Of course, the jokes started immediately, such as "better watch out, there might a tsunami on the fake lake!"

Image courtesy of the City of Long Beach, CA

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In a Garden

I wanted to share some more photos with you from my visit last week with Diane and Lorraine, which started with some time spent on Diane's deck, overlooking her lovely garden. Here's a picture of that beautiful space, with her dog Sam passing through:

One of the books she has made was designed to showcase the artist trading cards that she and her friend Heather made for each other over a period of several months. Heather lives in Australia and they had this idea that each month, they would each make a card for one another based on the same theme. Here's a picture of the cover:

In this next photo, you can see the pages Diane made to hold the cards. The theme for that particular month was dragonflies:

One month, the theme was "garden" and Diane designed a card with a gate that opened to reveal a photo of her own garden - isn't that clever?

Many thanks to Diane for allowing me to share these photos of her creations.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day of Summer

Finally, the first day of summer has arrived and what a lovely one it has been, warm and sunny. I got to thinking about some of the things I love about summer and I thought I would share that list with you.

Here they are, in no particular order:

- banana popsicles

- beachcombing

- beading on the balcony

- being at the cottage

- corn on the cob

- drinks made with crushed ice

- eating outdoors

- fresh berries grown locally

- long hours of daylight that fade slowly into twilight

- painted toenails

- screen doors

- sleeping with the windows open, serenaded by chirping crickets

- sitting on the dock with my toes dangling in the water

- thunderstorms

- wearing sandals, if shoes are needed, or going barefoot if they're not

This is by no means the entire list, but just a few of things that I thought of today, as I look forward to the next few months in happy anticipation.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

To all the men out there doing a fabulous job of raising their kids (because let's face it, it is hard work), I salute you.

Here's a picture of my dear dad, hanging out in his workshop with a sign that he carved. I'll be missing him today.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

When we were visiting at Diane's house the other night, I noticed this old wicker chair in her neighbour's garden, with pretty pink flowers planted in the seat of chair. What a beautiful display it makes, and what a great way to make use of a chair that might have otherwise ended up in the trash.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Post #630

Wow, that number is astounding to me! That's a whole lot of typing and blogging, isn't it? Most days, I enjoy it and I usually don't have any trouble figuring out what to write about. But I must admit, some days are harder than others.

So I was interested to read on Kate McKinnon's blog recently that she is taking some time off from her habit of posting several times throughout her day. She has been very busy lately, writing a couple of books, finishing a DVD project, teaching classes and working at bead shows, with the travel that that entails. Not hard to tell why she might want to take a couple of weeks off and enjoy a vacation with her family.

When I read her post, part of me thought the idea of taking a vacation from blogging seemed like a good one. Only, I don't really feel I need to stop, full stop. I'm thinking maybe I just need to take myself off the hook from blogging every day. Because sometimes, it's hard to do, especially now that cottage season has started again. I have to remember to set up posts in advance if I'm going to be out one night or away for the weekend. Or, I have to turn on my computer when I get home, no matter how late it is. That can be a challenge when I'm tired. On those days, it feels like more of an obligation than fun, when really it should just be fun. After all, it's not a job, it's something I do because I choose to.

So if I don't post more than a photo or a quotation for a day or two (especially on weekends), worry not - I'll be back soon with a tale to tell!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hanging With Lorraine and Diane

I had a great time hanging out with Diane and Lorraine the other night. We met at Diane's house first, had a glass of wine and an appetizer while we played show and tell with our various art projects and photos, then we strolled up to the Danforth and had dinner at one of the Greek restaurants. It was a perfect early summer evening, not too warm, not too cool, just right for eating at a table with the windows open to the street.

Lorraine showed us some of the photos she took on her recent trip to Barcelona and the south of France - the colours were so beautiful, but I admit I was surprised at the pastel shades in a lot of her shots. I think of Barcelona as being so vibrant and colourful, it was nice to see the softer side. Then again, it might just be that Lorraine gravitates to those colours, that they appeal to her more than the stronger, bolder tones but there were plenty of those too. She also showed us a petite little journal she is creating using a Moleskin sketchbook as a base.

Since we were at Diane's house, it was easy for her to pull out a few more projects to share with us out of her very inspiring studio room, which leads out onto the patio and the beautiful garden - how lovely a space that would be to work in. She carried out a stack of journals she has made in various classes and let me tell you, they were so varied and so amazing, it was mind boggling.

Here's a picture of Diane (on the left) showing one of those journals to Lorraine. Notice the stack on the left hand side of the picture - those were the books Diane has made that we were about to explore and my goodness, they were quite a treasure trove of talent!

Thank you, ladies, for the lovely evening and most of all, for the inspiration!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

That Was Weird

If you checked out yesterday's post before tonight, you will have noticed it was missing something - namely, the photos that were meant to included therein. Many thanks to Sharon for emailing me to tell me of this problem. I had typed Tuesday's post on Monday night, knowing I would be out to dinner with Diane and Lorraine last night (we had a lovely visit, by the way, details in a later post) and wouldn't have a chance to post, and scheduled it to automatically post itself early Tuesday evening. But somehow when the post went live, all 4 of the photos I had included were missing. I'm not sure if it was a Blogger problem or if I loaded them and then forgot to save the changes before I hit the "publish" button. It's sorted now but how it happened is a mystery.

Here's another weird thing: ever since I hooked up my new HP printer, every now and again, I would have a blue box appear on my screen indicating that there was an update available and would I like to download and install it now. Only, there is no yes or no button to click, just the box with the message. It's about two inches square so it takes up space on the screen, although you can move the box around and tuck it off to one side but it's still rather annoying. It doesn't go away until you log off. This is what it looked like:

Of course, as I was typing that paragraph, the thought occurred to me that I should Google my problem and see if there was a solution. Sure enough, I typed in "HP update box won't go away" and up popped several entries. The first one I clicked on was a link to the HP support website, where someone (in 2008, so clearly this is not a new problem and I'm not the only one experiencing it) had suggested that you hold your cursor arrow over the area in the bottom left side of the box that should be where the "continue" button would be if it were visible and hit the enter key. What do you know, it worked?! My computer is currently being updated! Very slowly, mind you but still, it is happening.
Phew! One less thing to worry about! Now if only it were that easy to find out how they get the caramel in a Caramilk bar...oh wait, they have the answer to that quandary on the Internet too and it's not nearly as exciting as the old commercials made us think it was. Oh well. Some answers you want to know, and some should forever remain a mystery.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flower Power

I'm having dinner with two of my craft monkey friends tonight, Diane and Lorraine. Lorraine is just back from two weeks in Spain, including a full week in Barcelona, the lucky girl. Diane recently had a trip to the southern U.S., including Nashville, and since she got back, she and I have taken a couple of classes together. So the three of us are getting together to swap stories and do a little show and tell with our various souvenirs and creations. We're meeting up at Diane's house and then heading to the Danforth for a meal. I haven't been there in ages, I'm hoping we get to enjoy a little Greek cuisine but mostly, I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing about what the girls have been up to.

One of the things I plan on showing them are these cool little fabric flowers Donna Downey taught us how to make in the 2nd class I took with her. They are so quick and easy to make (I will share the directions in an upcoming post) and I think they look quite pretty. So far, I've been experimenting with different patterns and types of fabric and then hunting through my button collection to see what I can find to use for the centre of the flowers.

The best part is, you don't even have to sew the buttons on. Being a true craft monkey, I've developed quite a collection of of adhesives so a little squirt of Rangers' Glossy or Matte Accents (both of which dry clear) and presto, the button is instantly attached to the flower (although in the case of the pink flower, I did want thread to show on the centre of the button so I sewed it first and then glued it on for good measure).

Donna told us we could even make them out of paper towels and then dip them in paint or ink and decorate them that way. Sure enough, she was right! Once I decide what medium I want to use to colour those ones, I'll share photos of the paper towel version. In the meantime, here's a picture of the one that I made during Donna's class and stuck on one of my journal pages:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Friends in High Places

Sometimes it helps to have friends who are willing to lend a helping had when they come to visit.

One of the tasks that needs to be done at our cottage twice a year involves climbing up a ladder to the top of the chimney. Every fall, someone has to climb up to put the cap on the top of the chimney, to keep the snow and animals from going down it for the six months that we're not in residence. In the spring, another climb to the top, to take the cap off so we can use the fireplace again.

Usually, my sister is the one to do the climbing as it is a bit risky for me ever since I hurt my back. Only trouble is, she doesn't like heights. She does it, but she doesn't like doing it, you know what I mean?

Lucky for both of us, her boyfriend came to visit on the weekend and was more than happy to do that job for us. Wasn't that nice of him?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weary but Accomplished

I just got home from the cottage and I knew I was tired, but I didn't realize exactly how tired until it took me three tries to remember what my password was to sign into my Google Gmail account.

It was a long day, still spring cleaning which means more washing of all of the dishes in the cupboards. About half way through, I thought, why do we need so many serving bowls? Do we really need 2 dozen sets of plates? But of course, you do at a cottage for those occasions when you suddenly find you have 15 people for dinner and several courses to serve. And who knew that a couple of cans of frozen pop would spray so much sticky brown stuff onto so many different dishes?? Sadly, we still don't have running water so washing dishes involved heating up several kettles full of water brought in from elsewhere. Plus I washed out the beer fridge, which lives outdoors and had a rather interesting ice sculpture forming inside the freezer section where rain had leaked in over the winter.

On the nature watch, I saw a fawn in the woods between our place and our neighbour's yesterday, a sweet little thing who bounced far enough away to feel safe when I surprised him but then stopped to look at me for a while as I watched him, admiring his big ears and pretty spots. He looked very similar to the fawn in this photo by Fred LaBounty that I found on the Internet. He seemed awfully small to be out and about on his own, but I couldn't spot any other deer nearby.

And a ruby-throated hummingbird came by to check out the red bucket of water I had filled from the lake and left outside, but didn't drink any of it. My sister Janine spotted a Northern (Common) Flicker digging ants or some other sort of bug out of the grass on our overgrown lawn, which we hadn't ever seen before. Perhaps there are advantages to letting the grass grow! (photo by Bob Moul, also via the Internet)

All in all, a lovely day at the cottage but I'm ready for my bed!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Possibly Rainy Saturday

I'm off to the cottage today for what is forecasted to be a rainy but muggy day. I don't mind, because any day at the cottage is a good day, no matter what the weather. I've got lots of indoor work to do anyway, those kitchen cupboards aren't going to clean themselves and the living room still needs to be vacuumed and dusted in a very thorough fashion to get rid of a six month accumulation. And maybe we'll get lucky, and it won't rain very much or at least, not all day.

I hope you have a lovely day, whatever is in store for you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Soccer, Anyone?

Anyone who hasn't been living off the grid this week will have noticed, as I have, that some big soccer tournament started today. FIFA World Cup Soccer, to be exact, being hosted by South Africa.

What you may not know is that the grass for all of these matches has been provided by a Canadian company. As if that is not astounding enough, said grass is being provided by a company named Pickseed whose headquarters are located in the very same small town where I grew up, Lindsay, Ontario (the grass itself will be grown in Manitoba). Talk about a small world!

Now, I will freely admit that I know nothing about soccer. I have never played the game, never watched anyone play it for more than 30 seconds at one time. Nor do I wish to start now. It wasn't as popular a sport when was I growing up way back in the last century, not like it is now, as I understand kids of all ages and both sexes play anywhere and everywhere these days.

What I find amazing is that so many people are so excited about this tournament. It's a virtual frenzy of excitement here in the city of Toronto. Last week, flags of various countries started appearing on cars. I work for a property management company and this week, the calls started rolling in from tenants who suddenly want to put a satellite dish on the roof of their building so they can watch the games (why they waited until the last minute to make these arrangements is a mystery to me). A special law was passed to allow bars to start serving liquor one whole hour earlier in the morning, i.e. starting at 10 a.m. instead of 11, to accommodate the soccer watching fans who might develop an early morning thirst. I am told that several bars and restaurants along the Danforth (the heart of Greektown) are already booked up for Greece's first match tomorrow morning, which starts at 7:30 a.m. And most horrifying of all, Sunday morning viewings of my beloved Coronation Street will not be shown on CBC for the next 3 weekends in a row, forcing viewers to catch the episodes in 5 half hour bits on weeknights or watch online, instead of a leisurely 2.5 hour delight on the weekend. It's a darn shame.

I personally don't plan to watch any soccer in the next four weeks and really don't care who wins but if I had to vote, I would be cheering for Portugal. Why, you may ask? I think these photos that arrived in my inbox earlier today say it all:


Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Bead & Button Show 2010

If you are a beader, you're probably either headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin this week for the Bead & Button show or wishing you were, to help them celebrate their 10th anniversary. This year, I'm in the second category but that's okay, I went last year and it was so wonderful, the memories of that fabulous week will sustain me until I am able to go again.

But I do know lots of people who are there, so if you want to get a taste for what's going on, what people are doing, who's there and doing what, check these out:

Kate McKinnon - who has been making the most amazing PMC pieces and bead kits in recent weeks to sell at her booth, see link to her website on the right hand side of this blog and check out the photos on her blog.

The Beadfx Buyer - ditto.

The Dixon Chick - ditto, although she might not have time to post on her blog while she's there, you might do better to follow her on Facebook instead. According to her last posting, she swapped crystals and a wink for a seat upgrade at the Milwaukee Brewers game - lucky girl!!

Rachel Nelson-Smith -

Andrew Thornton of Green Girl Studios -, who is also hosting a giveaway today of six lovely lampwork beads made by Barbara "Basha", check out his blog and leave a comment before next Monday to be entered to win!!

I hope all my friends and bead colleagues have a wonderful time this week!! Miss you guys, hope to see y'all again soon!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chicks and Eagles

Last night, I went to the Dixie Chicks/Eagles concert with my good friends Barb and Wayne. Here's a picture of us having some fancy cocktails at dinner beforehand.

Wow, what a great show it was! The two bands are touring together for the summer, and apparently Keith Urban is joining them for most of the US dates but not for the 2 Canadian ones (they're playing in Winnipeg in two weeks) but I can't say I noticed his absence.

The Chicks played second (after an opening act I had never heard of and who had already left the stage by the time we arrived) and did 14 songs all together. "Not Ready to Make Nice", the song they wrote after the backlash and boycotting that when on following Natalie Maines' comment that she was ashamed then President George Bush was from Texas back in 2006 got the biggest reaction from the crowd, but they played a number of their most famous songs and did an excellent job of rocking the crowd.

As good as they were, you could tell everyone was there to see the Eagles, who came on just after 9 p.m. and played two solid hours of fabulous music. I saw them in 2006 and loved them just as much this time around. "Hotel California" was the 4th song their playlist and got a huge reaction from the crowd - here's how the stage looked while they played that one:

I tried to take photos during the concert but didn't have great luck, other than far away shots like the one above. I could see over the shoulder of a man two rows in front of me who was getting some great shots but he must have had a better camera or lens than mine, as I just couldn't get the same quality as he was getting. Nevertheless, the shots I got will be good for remembering, hey, I was there.

I did get some really cool altered photos though. I'm not sure what to call them, they're all magical-looking because of the way the light was captured. Here's an example of what I mean:

I love the way beams of light seem to be connected to each of the 4 Eagles band members and the different colours of those lines. And notice the sort of explosion of light to the left of them? Here's a similar result with the Dixie Chicks. I especially like the little burst of light that drops down under the image. Very cool and kind of spooky, don't you think?

I must admit, I'm a little tempted to go online to see if tickets are available and if I could get a cheap flight to Winnipeg, it was such a great show!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Word to the Wise

If any of you have ever thought about possibly taking your business on the outdoor craft fair circuit, you might want to read this posting by Sailor Girl (a.k.a Catherine Winter) about her experiences this past weekend:

Mother Nature can be very persnickety!!!

P.S. Catherine didn't take this photo, I got it off the Internet (thank you to the unknown photographer) but the photos on her blog are equally amazing!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Art Journal Boot Camp

I went back to Stamping Bella last night to take Donna Downey's "Inspiration Journal" class. We all got a journal with a pretty fabric cover at the start of the class. Here's what mine looks like:

She told us when we started that we were her first class on this topic. She recognized that all of us are intimidated by a blank page and it's often hard to sit down and create something, even if you might have a huge supply of everything you might possibly need to make whatever it is. So for the next three hours, she guided us over that initial hurdle and forced us to put at the least the beginning of various pages together. She called it "art journal boot camp" and that's exactly what it felt like. We opened our books to the first blank page (not the actual first page, we got to pick one in the middle of the book because that is just so much easier psychologically!) and zoom, we were off!

First she told us to paint one page with one colour. That's all. Couldn't be easier. On the next page, we got to use three colours, in any way we wanted - a little or a lot, sideways, up and down, all mixed up, didn't matter. Next time, it was 6 squirts of water on the page and add one colour. Then we were told to use any of the products we had brought except acrylic paint (which most of us had used for the past 3 pages).

As easy as these directions sound, it wasn't always easy. If you think about it too much, your brain starts inventing all sorts of ways to stop you from proceeding. Donna's solution to this was to tell us that we didn't need to ask her any questions, the answer was always going to be "yes". Is it okay if I use two colours instead of one? Yes. Can I use watercolour crayons instead of paint? Yes.

Here's Donna (on the far left) showing us one of the techniques she uses:

The real challenge started when she told us to flip to a new blank page, pick up our books and move three spots down the table to someone else's spot and decorate the page using their stuff. Wow, that was wild. And exciting at the same time. At first, everyone was a little hesitant - after all, you're using somebody else's possessions. Iut the next time, when she told us to do the same thing at a different table, everyone seemed to get over their initial hesitation and jump in wholeheartedly. It was a lot of fun. Here's a picture of the page I made using someone else's paint colours, ones I wouldn't necessarily have picked myself but which I quite liked:

All in all, it was a great class. We learned lots of new techniques and got comfortable with the idea that we are free to do as little or as much to a page with whatever medium we might choose as we want.

At the end, Donna asked us for any suggestions we might have to improve the class and all I could think of was, make it four hours instead of three. Or six. Or eight. Because once we got going, I didn't want to stop!!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Evil Is Not Welcome Here

One thing I was concerned about when we were making the book in Donna Downey's class the other night - we decorated the arrow shaped acrylic page with paint and then carved the word "live" into it.

Only we had to write it backwards, on the reverse side of the page, which meant we had to write the word "evil". I didn't want to introduce that emotion into my book so I wrote the word "live" from right to left, which took a little focus mentally but I got it done. I just have to figure out how to cover up that word now, as I don't want to see it. We painted over the letters we carved out of the paint in order to fill in the word "live" and I will try to paint over it again with a darker colour. I don't want evil in my book or in my life. I know it's out there but I'd rather not invite it in the door if I can help it.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. (Buddha)