Monday, April 30, 2012

Could It Be?

Yesterday, I gardened wearing a winter jacket. I pretended it was warm outside. On Saturday morning, it was 0 degrees. Yesterday, it started at a toasty 3C (37F).

Today, I don't need to make believe. It feels different. I heard lawnmowers in the neighbourhood for the first time. A bud on our magnolia tree is starting to unfurl, with many more to follow. All of the spring flowers are open wide, drinking in the warm sunshine. The lilac buds look like they are just days away from blooming. There are butterflies in the garden and a new family of sparrows in one of our birdhouses. Meeko and I took a long walk at lunch and came back overheated rather than chilled to the bone.

Magnolia
Prairie Crocus (plus the top photo)
I really love prairie crocuses.  They are such dramatic and bold looking spring flowers.  I have white ones too that aren't out yet.  Prairie crocuses are the provincial flower of Manitoba, the Canadian province where I was born.  I just found out that they are also the state flower of South Dakota.

Dasystemon Tulip (tulipa tarda)
Violas
Wood violets in the lawn
Daffodil (a lovely pale yellow but I don't remember its name)
Greigii Tulip 'Toronto'

This is my first spring blogging and, when I read others' blogs, it really hits home how our spring weather is behind so many other areas--except for that weird dose of hot weather we got in March.  It's hard to be patient sometimes, but then it feels really good when it does finally arrive!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Pick One

Years ago, I visited a printer who had a sign in their front entrance 'Quality, Speed, Price:  Pick Two'.  It made me smile because I think it can be applied to other things. Honestly, there are some days when picking one seems enough.

Balance is a difficult thing. I think it's probably even trickier when you work at home (and I'm not in any way diminishing the burden carried by those who work outside of home).  I can try to ignore duties attached to the house when I am supposed to be here being creative, but the house surrounds me. If one of my girls has a dentist appointment,  I'm the one with the 'flexible' schedule so guess who drives her? If Meeko needs a haircut, I'm the one who takes him (he's looking cute, by the way). Throw in a medical appointment for me, a sick day for one of my girls, two walks a day for Meeko scheduled in between rain and wind storms, and a week can disappear.

One of my daughters came home from school this week saying that some of her friends thought that everyone had a cleaning woman. No, not everyone.  We don't have a gardener either.  Well actually we do, but she lives here and is feeling bad right now about how neglected the garden is.

My husband is away from the house about 13 hours on most days and often works weekends, not by choice. He has an impossible job.  He comes in the door at the end of the day like a hurricane and rushes around the house being 'mostly' helpful in a very condensed way. It makes for a family life that feels upside down sometimes.

Beyond the demands of day-to-day family life, it's hard to achieve balance online as well.  If I look after my blog, I'm not painting.  If I'm painting (and I did finish a painting this week), I'm not producing new prints for my Etsy shop (which still take me a lot of time to do).  If I spend time making treasuries for Etsy (which is really helping my shop get more views), I'm not visiting other people's blogs and encouraging them.  But if I spend time visiting blogs, I feel like I'm cheering on others and I'm neglecting myself.

You get my drift.  I'm sure you all live various versions of this. It's hard to achieve balance or even feel that you're getting close some days. I'm not complaining. I'm mulling. I'm sifting. I'm deciding for today which one to pick.



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Grey and Green

Grey and green. That seems like a good summary of the past week. The weather is definitely grey (gray if you prefer) and cold and wet.  It's the kind of weather that slows everyone's pace.  Mine for sure.  I wasn't idle at all but my days moved slowly. I'm feeling a little computer fatigue too. So much effort sometimes with hard to recognize results.

The natural world is waking up around me. Slowly and surely, there is more green and bits of colour all around.  I brought my camera on my walk with Meeko yesterday, as I had seen wildflowers the day before. I almost walked right past them as everything was tightly closed. Even the plants miss the sunlight.

It's not just me. Even Meeko looks like he's in a pensive mood. Mind you, I don't spend as much time thinking about robins, seagulls, dog biscuits and squirrels as he does.

When Chloé was little, I sometimes called her Mademoiselle Mélasse (Miss Molasses) as she had a slow way of doing things.  I think I would carry that name well too sometimes. I am slow and deliberate in my thinking and my artwork. I have been working on a painting this week, slowly but happily.  Here's a little peek at a corner of it.


"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help."

May Sarton

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Be Still My Spring Heart

My gardener's heart is full this weekend. The first daffodils have bloomed in our backyard. This one is in Chloé's garden plot.  When the girls were young (two and six years old), I gave each of them a small portion of one of the back beds. They chose the spring bulbs and perennials to plant in their section.  Each May, they add annuals to fill in the gaps. It's been interesting to watch their colour choices and planting skills (with a bit of my help) evolve over the years.

And today the leaves on our beautiful Schubert tree (prunus virginiana) are opening! Am I crazy to be so excited every spring?  Things are happening outside of our yard too. The tiny forest behind the park that faces our street now has a soft, green haze--the promise of all of its beautiful leaves opening in the days ahead.

At an art course I took a few years ago, the teacher had us use jewelers' loupes (specialty magnifying glasses) to look at the inside of flowers. Have you ever had a close look? There's a little world inside of each of them.  This striped crocus seems to be harbouring a little tropical forest in its center.

In the photo below are three kinds of botanical tulips.  I love how they open well ahead of the hybridized tulips.  They are short and sweet and very cheerful.

The flowers below are scilla.  I'm not sure that anything could be more beautiful. Their waxy delicacy and that gorgeous periwinkle blue finds a way straight to my heart.  I have a painting sketched out in my studio that I need to start on, but I'm thinking that a painting of scilla may be next on my list.  I cannot stop looking at these photos.  I'll have to cut myself a little miniature bouquet for my studio.

Finally, here's a vagabond daffodil that made its way to just outside of Emma's flower bed. I like how a garden will talk to you and let you know where it would like to grow. 


For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

May your hearts and thoughts this week be filled with daffodils (and scilla and crocuses and tulips and soft green spring leaves...).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Nature Collection with a French Twist

I just completed a painting this afternoon and I have already added the print to my Etsy shop.  I am so happy with how it turned out. (I hope it doesn't sound like bragging to say that.  It's not every day that I finish a painting and it just feels right.)

I did the painting of a collection of small and precious objects:  beach stones (one with a heart shape), tiny shells, green and amber sea glass--all from a past holiday in Maine.  I also included a sparrow's feather, a bud from a tree in my backyard and a couple of pieces of garden twine.  Then I did something quite different for me.  I added text to my painting and I decided to write the words in French.

Most of you know this by now. I live in a bilingual household.  I am anglophone. My husband is francophone.  Sometimes the French words are prettier than the English ones and, in this case, they even rhyme!  'La terre' is the earth, 'la mer' is the ocean or sea and l'air is...well I think you have that one figured out.

The photo above is of the painting in progress before I had thought of adding the feather, twine and twig. I'm not a sketchbook person although I admire those who are. My paintings develop as I work on them.

Thanks to everyone who left the lovely comments about Chloé's photography in the last post.  She was proud and happy to read them. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photo Artist in the Garden

Wish I could take credit for taking these beautiful photos, but it was the youngest member of our family, my 12-year-old daughter Chloé, who took my camera for an artful walk around the garden. Hope she lets me paint a few of these!


Photographer:  Chloé Galarneau

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I'm Bookish

I've been having fun creating 'treasuries' on Etsy recently. For those not familiar with Etsy, treasuries are collections of items for sale on Etsy related by a theme. Here's one that I created (and it's true): I'm bookish.



I've found it much easier to create treasuries since discovering the treasury maker provided by Shmetsy.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Greetings


The bunny arrived during the night. We have finished our Easter egg hunt in the backyard and the chocolate is now being devoured.



Our mop-top Meeko found the whole morning to be very exciting. And, don't worry, I have now placed the chocolate eggs well out of his reach. (Chocolate is toxic to dogs.)

A very Happy Easter to all who are celebrating today. ♥
From The Graphics Fairy

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