Friday, October 31, 2014

Haiku My Heart Fridays: Happy Hallowe'en!

Spirits of the dead
Are said to walk tonight, souls
searching for their rest.

Stories about ghosts,
Witches and goblins have spooked
many over the years.

Vintage Halloween Witch Image
Pumpkins and costumes
help us celebrate these days,
we laugh at our fright.

Vintage Halloween Postcard Image

Many thanks to The Graphics Fairy for these vintage images.

More haiku can be found on Rebecca's blog at recuerda_mi_corazon.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Remembering San Miguel de Allende

Exactly a year ago, I was enjoying a week in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  I thought I'd peek back at the 224 photos I took on that day in 2013 and share some of them here today, since I never did get around to posting enough of them last year.

A lot of my photos feature the beautiful churches and architecture of the town.
There were so many fascinating places to see, the colours and images still resonate with me even as I look back at the images I captured through my lens.
I had my picture taken with a sculpture created by Anado McLauchlin:
Judy Wise gave us a lesson on how to paint faces that day:
Making art in this courtyard was a special experience we enjoyed every day.
We had a drink on a patio overlooking the city as night was falling.  As I recall, it started to rain shortly after we left!
The view was quite magical.
As we were leaving the restaurant, we stopped to have our picture taken in cardboard cutouts featuring the catarinas associated with the Day of the Dead.
Altars were beginning to appear everywhere for the upcoming celebrations.
Fortunately for me, I will soon be travelling back to this magical place. I am so looking forward to being there again!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Meeting With A Red Squirrel

I had a close encounter with a red squirrel on the weekend.  I was walking up the driveway at the cottage when suddenly, there he was at the base of a tree.
I think he was as surprised to see me as I was him.
I almost didn't noticed him at first as his colouring blends so well with the fallen leaves on the ground.  He seemed quite happy to pose for me.
Then it was time to go - can you see his cute little squirrel butt scampering away in this photo? I told you, he blends!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Grand Medallion

I haven't had much time to sketch in the past week or two so I thought I'd share a photo of something I drew a few weeks ago.  It was a medallion that I bought for a friend who likes deer; now that she has received her gift, I can post these photos.
I found it at the Aberfoyle outdoor antique market in September.  There were actually 3 of them available but I foolishly only bought one; I've been regretting that decision ever since!  Using my favourite resource tool, Google, I found this eBay listing from 2010 which describes a similar medallion and attributes it to the Catholic Order of Foresters, described on Wikipedia as a "Catholic fraternal insurance society".  If you wish, you can read more about them on their website.

Here's my sketch, drawn over top of a page torn from a receipt book dating back to 1929, another antique market purchase that day.
It was quite an interesting piece, about six inches in length and two inches in width.  I was thinking it would make an unusual clasp for a handmade journal perhaps; I'll be interested to see what my friend Susan does with it.  In the meantime, I'll keep my eyes open, in case I see another one in the future that I might want to pick up for myself! ;)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Toronto Aglow

This morning, the city was aglow in the rising sun.
I've left these photos unaltered because I love the orangeness of these images.
I just really wish that one building on the right hand side were just a few feet farther out of range!
The plumes of exhaust coming off the rooftops look like flames.
One lone wind turbine on the horizon.
Tonight the city is aglow with the news that we have a new mayor.  Finally, the circus act that was our previous mayor has been formally removed and hopefully our new governing personalities will act with more decorum and focus on the issues facing the city, and leave the buffoonery behind.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Haiku My Heart Friday: October Rain

Rain in October
Washes away fall's splendour
Pale remnants remain.

You'll find more haiku gathered here by the lovely Rebecca: recuerda_mi_corazon.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Canadians Worth Watching

It was hard to concentrate at work today.  My thoughts kept turning to yesterday's horrifying events. Rex Murphy provided a poignant two minute summary of the day on the CBC last night.  It's two minutes worth watching.

Here's the link, in case the video above doesn't play (I'm having trouble watching videos on my laptop, although they seem to play just fine on my iPad mini, why is that?!): Rex Murphy.

I was really impressed with the news coverage on the CBC yesterday.  Peter Mansbridge and Evan Solomon did an excellent job covering the story live for several hours in a calm and informative manner.

There were poignant moments today, as stories began to appear describing the characters of the slain soldiers, pictures of the police cars blocking the street where Corporal Cirillo's family lives to ensure their privacy in these first hours of their grief, news of the donations pouring in for a trust established the victims' families.  Also moving was the footage of the standing ovation received by the man credited with taking down the assailant, Kevin Vickers, the Sergeant-at-Arms in the House of Commons when today's session began. It lasted several minutes and it was clear he was visibly moved, as were we who watched.  Just another soldier doing his job, perhaps, but one who also deserves to be hailed as a hero.  Here's the link for the clip with that footage:  Kevin Vickers.

Honour. Sacrifice. Solidarity.  We are Canadian.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shocked and Saddened

Today's shootings in our nation's capital were shocking.  I first heard about it just before noon when one of my co-workers came into my office to tell me our colleagues in our Ottawa office were in lockdown as a result of the unfolding events. I immediately went online to see what was going on and watched enthralled as the footage was shown on the CBC's website.

I was saddened to hear that the soldier that was shot did not survive.  The news was even more tragic and frightening given that it was only two days ago that another Canadian soldier was killed after a man purposely struck him and another soldier with a car.  My heart goes out to the families of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, please take a moment to Google those name and familiarize yourself with their stories.)

I was even more upset to realize that not everyone thought this was an important event worthy of attention.  I went into our office kitchen to watch the coverage on the bigger screen and discovered those having lunch there were doing what they do every day while they eat, watching their favourite soap opera, The Young and the Restless.  When I suggested that they might want to switch to the news, at the very least during the commercials, one of them responded, "But why? We're not in Ottawa."

As if it didn't matter that someone had been shot and killed because it wasn't happening in our own city but four hours away in our nation's capital. That members of our government and possibly even our Prime Minister were being threatened in our House of Parliament.  That the victim had been a member of our Armed Forces, standing guard over our National War Memorial honouring those unknown soldiers who had died in wars that ensured us the freedoms we have today.  That our colleagues were locked in their office, fearing for their own safety and those on the streets below.

I believe it is this very mentality that contributes to much of the division and misunderstanding that is a factor in so many of the sad, tragic and devastating events taking place seemingly everywhere these days, the feeling that what happens in the world at large has little or no bearing on how we live our daily lives. It's easy to ignore what's happening on the news if you can just turn the dial to another channel, tune out, switch off.  Who cares if people are poisoning honey bees, shooting each other, setting off bombs, catching a disease, as long as it doesn't change how I spend my lunch hour.  So very sad.

I have to believe not everyone feels this way, that there are those who believe, as I do, that we need each other to survive, that what happens to others matters to me, whether it happens next door or on the other side of the planet. Because it does matter.  It's important to know that the men and women who don a uniform every day to protect those of us who do not, whether they are members of the armed forces, police, emergency services or security guards, deserve our thanks and respect. They do not deserve to be gunned down or run down, although I recognize that many of them accept that what they do puts them at risk as they undertake the duties of their job.

I, for one, am very grateful that they do and I won't forget the risks they take every day and the sacrifices they make to keep the rest of us safe at home, watching our televisions, going about our everyday lives.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Great Storage Idea

I've got more to tell you about the weekend classes I took with Julie Balzer but not tonight, I'm too pooped. Just got home from doing some shopping after work. In addition to groceries, I simply had to get myself to Michaels to pick up some scrapbook albums after seeing how Julie stored her stencils. The 12 x 12 size of the albums is perfect for holding 12 inch square stencils and it turns out, they make 8 x 8 inch albums too, which are just right for holding the 6 inch size stencils.  Each album has 10 pages, to hold a minimum of 20 stencils.  You can get either white or black pages, both of which show off the stencil pattern very well.
I think Julie said she uses the Project Life divided pocket pages in her binder, which hold various sizes of stencils and masks, including her cute little "Balzer Bits".  I love how she has labelled the pockets, so she knows exactly what goes where (and can thus easily tell what is missing, which I'm sure is helpful when she is using them for classes).
A glimpse into Julie's stencil binder
I looked at those divided pages but even at 40% off, the PL binders and insert pages seemed a bit pricey so I went with the less expensive Reflections albums.  I thought they might be easier to tote around to play dates than the heavier PL style binders, we'll see.  I've got some 4 x 6 photo album pages I can use to tuck my little bits into in the meantime.  I'm just super excited to have this new storage system in place!

Once again, many thanks to Julie for the inspiration!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Carving Stamps With Julie Balzer

I had a very artful weekend, taking 3 classes with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer of Balzer Designs at Bizzy B.  The first one, on Friday night, was called "Stamp Carving 101" and totally lived up to its name.

I've carved stamps before; I even have a cute little box full of supplies.
However, I realized last week as I was packing my supplies for class that I haven't actually carved anything since 2012.  I thought taking this course would be a good way to refresh my memory about what to do and how to do it.  Boy, was I surprised.  This class was so informative, I learned a lot more than I expected and certainly a lot that I hadn't known before.  I also had a lot of fun doing it.
Julie is a very energetic teacher. She has a lot of experience and talent for making art and is excited to share what she knows with her students.  The good news is, she starts at the very beginning and walks you through everything step-by-step, and is happy to answer questions at any stage of the process. Here she is showing us how to change the blade on our carving tool.
She also has a great sense of humour, of which her pencil case is just one example.
At the end of class, we all stamped various blank sheets of paper so we could each take a sheet home that had samples of everyone's carvings.  I'm hoping to try my hand at some of these designs, they are all just so fabulous. (Julie's fabulous handmade stamps on the left - check out the ones for the days of the week!! - examples of my fellow students' talent on the right.)
I also picked up a copy of Julie's new book, "Carve Stamp Play" (available on Amazon).

which she kindly autographed for each of us who bought a copy.  There are lots of great techniques in the book for taking your stamp carving to the next level, I can't wait to try them out.  Stay tuned!

The moment I knew Julie's teaching had been successful was when I was playing in my journal on Sunday night after I had come home from class and found myself wishing I could add a row of dots to the page I was working on.  I didn't have a marker the right size or colour for what I wanted but suddenly it occurred to me, why not carve myself what I wanted? So I did, right there and then.  I made this little stamp, with two sizes of dots, and then set about stamping with it in my journal.
I was so excited, both with the fact that I could do it and with the result on my journal page! Thank you, Julie, for the inspiration!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Haiku My Heart Friday: Life Changes

Nothing stays the same
Life changes, we move forward
One day at at time.

After 40 years on this lake, our beloved family cottage has been sold.  We have lots of wonderful memories of happy times with family and friends during our time here.  It was a difficult decision to make but a necessary one.  We'll be spending the next few weeks cleaning out, getting everything ready for the new owner before the mid-November closing date.
And so we turn towards the future, and whatever new adventures might lie ahead.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Sky Tonight

I was planning on working a bit later tonight, until I looked out the window and saw the sky:
Very impressive, but just to the south, you could tell someone was getting wet:
I figured it was best to head home before the stormy weather got any closer.  Down at ground level, the view was equally inspiring.
I got home just as the first raindrops were starting to fall.  It has been raining for the past couple of hours now, with some impressive lighting and thunder thrown in now and again, but I'm warm and dry at home, cuddled up with my cats and my computer.