Saturday, December 02, 2006

Winter ice

Winter gave a taste today with a little snow followed by hours of freezing rain. It hate freezing rain. It coats everything with layers of ice that makes getting into the car an adventure and makes driving a roller coaster ride. It turns agile adults into people who creep their way across sidewalks and steps. It encapsulates every branch,twig and needle of trees with ice and bends trees to the ground with the combined weight. I can bring down power lines and cause havoc to road, rail and air travel.

It has a pretty side, especially if the sun comes out after an ice storm. Then it glitters and glints, the silence occasionally broken by some of the ice loosening its hold and crashing like breaking glass to the ground.

The weather makes me turn to domestic affairs and plans for the coming season. I cook and clean and bake inappropriate goodies that do me no good. Its a nesting thing that winter weather brings out in me. I want to cook stews and chili, bake bread and cookies, dust off Christmas lights and sort decorations. Just as well this weather isn't a daily occurance or I'd never get any drawing done!

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Friday, December 01, 2006


June 26, 1989 - December 1, 2005

A year ago today I lost a friend that I had for sixteen years. Biscuit was endearing, infuriating, loving, loyal, disobedient but always constant and he changed my life during his stay with me. He is buried at the edge of the woods with his friend Blue, the cat, who died two days after he did at the age of 18. You are missed my friend.

A Dog Has Died - Pablo Neruda

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I found a heap of bears under a Christmas tree at the supermarket of all places. They were festively dressed in red sweaters wtih a tag around their necks saying that $2 from the sale of each bear would go to children's charities.

I love teddy bears and he is cute and does make good drawing material and I can pass him on soon....yes I know. I can't resist small furry animals even if they aren't real.

So another awful scan. I'll set up the camera for the next image and it will be at least clearer I hope.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes

I stopped at the supermarket on my way home to pick up some salad stuff and was at the checkout with a harassed mother and small boy about 6 or so behind me in the queue. The overheard conversation went something like this:

Boy: Look Mom, that gum is only 79 cents.

Mother: No.

Boy: But just 79 cents. That's not a lot.

Mother: No.

Mother gets on cell phone to husband:
Do we need guinea pig food and that bedding stuff? Silence. Obviously husband screwed up here.
'Well, I'll get it now. I'll get the cedar chips. Perhaps the fumes will help shorten its little life span."

All the time, the boy is chanting, 'Look Mom, gum, 79 cents, get it? Mom?? Gum is only 79 cents.'

Finally the mother turns to the boy and says ' Ten minutes earlier to bed for every time you say that again. Get it?'

Boy: I never really liked that gum anyway...'

I couldn't help but chuckle at the eavesdropped conversation. And thank my lucky stars that I didn't have small children anymore!

The photograph is downtown Flatrock with a harp seal snoozing on the rocks of the harbour. Seals are common around Newfoundland and come to shore from time to time. I even met one on Water Street a few years ago, that was in the heart of St. John's!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Scottish play

Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast,--

A number of years ago my daughter was involved with a Shakespeare By The Sea production of Macbeth. It seems that I was too as each night I trekked her and friends to the play and either came back home, then went back again to fetch her or sat around and watched Macbeth - over and over and over and over.

It was set on the edge of cliff in Logy Bay overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. An idyllic setting, rugged and wild which was suitable for a play set in Scotland. But perhaps not the best choice considering the history of that play. Dubbed 'the Scottish play', Macbeth has acquired a reputation as 'cursed' due to calamities which have occurred during various productions over the centuries, including riots, falling scenery, illness and even the death of a lead actor. This one was no different, with actors suffering broken bones and one concussion. Then there was the night that a dog in the audience took offence at the charge of the guards, armed with swords and took off barking in full challenge mode til the embarrassed owner retrieved the animal. The joys of open air theatre...

When I drew this image of a bedroom, the quote from Macbeth sprang to mind immediately - Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care. But that's not the phrase that comes to mind when I think back over that summer of Macbeth plays. It is evocative and provides me with the images of light fading and night taking over. I remember it so strongly that the phrase is commonplace in my head now when afternoon is fading into evening. Light thickens...

Light thickens; and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood:
Good things of day doth droop and drowse;
While night's black agents to their preys do rouse.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Little things

I finished a sketch of a friend's daughter and have been asked to do another child portrait before Christmas and have also started another drawing that was in this week's WetCanvas drawing thread.

The image caught my eye early this morning and may have promise, providing I don't work it to death. Its a bed and lamp on a bedside table and looks soft and inviting with lovely sunlight filtering across the pillows and on the wall behind it. I'm out of practice in drawing material folds and am finding it difficult to make them look realistic. I have started it in graphite but am wondering if perhaps it may be better suited to charcoal. Time is the deciding factor with me in most things. I could easily fit another 12 hours into each day and still never have enough time to do all that I want to do.

But there's always tomorrow...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Early winter

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show. ~Andrew Wyeth