- Frank Zappa
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
- Frank Zappa
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Finding a tree in the woods brings back memory pictures of trudging along with my mum, dad, and older brother, getting tired and wondering why they were all such perfectionists, (I liked the scraggly ones) but I wouldnt have missed it for anything.
My own kids now in their 20's must have similar warm memories of their dad hooking up the Belgian team and going by sleigh to the deep woods for a campfire and christmas tree search. The kids are grown now and on their own and will adopt their own traditions, but these two old fogeys will hold to the natural tree tradition as long as one of us can wield a bucksaw.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I am stuck in a time warp longing for Christmas the way it used to be , with naivete’ and simplicity, the way that of course is gone forever.
Christmas Eve of 1958 still glows in my memory as brightly as the bold colored paper chains that festooned our wild fir tree. I was eight years old and had always been frightened of the dark but I was determined to slip outside that night, for my desire for magic would overcome any rising fears.
The suspense had been building for days. I had come across an amazing short story in a library book that had fired my imagination so that I had thought of little else. It went like this: The lowly animals that had witnessed the birth of the Holy Child were forever after given the power of human speech on Christmas Eve. And the story hinted that only children, the pure in heart, could hear them. Of course it was true, I never doubted the tale for a moment, except maybe the pure in heart part. I wasn’t entirely sure I qualified there, or even what it meant. Maddening in its lack of details, I had read the scant pages over and over searching for clues. What time was this supposed to happen? And was there a time limit, say dawn? Would the cows speak to the horses or just to their own kind? What would they say? I knew somehow that there would be no idle chit chat of the weather or the quality of the hay that year. There would be reverent murmuring concerning the wonder of the Christ child appearing amongst their distant ancestors, and I was going to be there to eavesdrop.
The barn was not ours. We were a family of British immigrants who had settled in rural Canning, Nova Scotia in the spring of 1957. My new school was a nightmare. I was the center of unwanted attention and taunts each time I ventured to speak in my crisp English accent. Self concious and painfully shy, my salvation came in the discovery of the farm. It was directly across the road from our rented home, a rambling farmhouse with a truly enormous red barn housing both beef and dairy cows, pigs and work horses.
For days I had hung around the edges of the pastures, hunkered down under the bushes watching the newborn calves and longing to touch their soft black and white patches. My trail was becoming noticeable. The elderly farmer spoke to me suddenly but warmly,
“What’s your name?”
“Kathryn,” I whispered.
“I got a sick one in a stall. Bloated. Needs to be walked.”
He turned abruptly towards the barn and I followed, and he handed me a rope with a calf on the other end. A blatting unhappy creature with a hugely distended belly. I kept her moving for hours it seemed, the dangerous gas subsided and she survived and recovered. Mr Roscoe grinned at me and said “You done good.” And I shone.
I had become his shadow. I learned to chew the end of a stalk of timothy in companionable silence and to spit like an exclamation point. At nine I could reach the brake with my toes, and so he taught me to drive his battered old tractor, a delicious secret I could never dare divulge to my parents.
I turned up for breakfast daily before the crack of dawn. Breathless from running uphill and scared in the dark, I would burst into the warm kitchen, compose myself, and place my egg on the counter. A strange ritual that my mother insisted upon. The Roscoes had dozens of chickens. They sold eggs. They had eggs galore. But my mother would not be indebted to anyone so each day I repaid one egg. My dear mother never knew of the secret perversion of proper table manners I took such delight in. Mr Roscoe would scoop out our soft boiled eggs, plop mine onto my plate for me, and provide toast for dipping into the glorious mess. At home we ate eggs properly ensconced in silver egg cups, spooning out dainty bits with tiny teaspoons.. “Properly” was a word I had grown up with.
“You know, you can call me Britt,” he once said to me at at breakfast. “And you know her name is May,” indicating his plump apron clad wife with a nod of his head. May couldn’t say “th”, and she called me Cassie.
But I couldn’t do it. Although this lovely couple filled the role of grandparents in my life, I had just too much British reserve. The idea of dropping the Mr and Mrs was just too startling and if my parents had caught wind of me adopting such deplorable manners I’d never hear the end of it.
Mr Roscoe bought me a pony. They said it was for the grandchildren but I knew better. It was me he took in his funny old car with the rounded fenders and smoky smelling velvet upholstery to find the horse. We travelled every back road of the Annapolis Valley only to settle on Bessie. She was old and cantankerous and frequently laid her ears back and I loved her fiercely. There was never a saddle and the bridle was mostly baler twine but I never questioned any of it. I had my heart’s desire, a pony to love and the intoxicating freedom of tearing though the hayfields at a fast gallop, my fingers entwined in her mane and our ponytails flying behind us. My mother never knew of the times the old pony had stumbled and I had come flying off, the wind knocked out of me and a fresh round of bruises to hide.
It took so very long that Christmas Eve for the family to settle down . I must have dozed off, for suddenly it was very late and the light no longer showed through the crack under my parents door. I pulled on my clothes over my pyjamas and tiptoed down the stairs with my heart beating loudly, hoping I wasn’t too late. The dash across the road and up the driveway to the barn was terrifying through the shadows of the maples in the stark moonlight. I never thought of my footprints in the new snow and do not know to this day if they were noticed.
“Barbie, don’t you know this is Christmas Eve? Don’t you know that you can speak now?” I willed the silent questions towards a spot between her horns. The jersey chewed her cud, meditating, and blinked her large eyes. At the end of the row of cow stanchions I blew my breath into Bessie’s nostrils. “ This is a Holy Night, you know, girl”. The pony snorted softly and said nothing discernable. I tried speaking out loud. I sang the first two verses of Silent Night. I didn’t know any more of it. I hummed O Holy Night. I didn’t know any of the words. My promptings were having no effect at all. The cud chewing and digestive rumblings of the cows were the only response forthcoming.
I retreated to an empty calf pen and covered myself with straw. Toby, grinning in a ray of moonlight, wriggled in beside me and I pulled her close and waited…and waited in the quiet darkness, my mind busily reviewing the library book for further clues. Suddenly it came to me! Cows, horses, pigs, hens, a dog, numerous cats and kittens all sheltered within this barn, but there was no donkey.
Was the donkey the missing crucial ingredient? I pictured the little animal in the Christmas story book. A grey donkey with the cross of Christ described in the black lines along it’s back and across it’s shoulders. Of course! If this barn had a donkey he would be well aware of his blessed heritage. The other creatures would know to look to him for leadership and the stage would be set for the unfolding miracle of reverent conversation.
With a curious mixture of disappointment yet satisfaction with my own explanation, I crawled out of my warm nest, kissed Toby goodbye, and ran like a deer through the snow, downhill this time, and to my bed, shedding bits of straw up the staircase and along the hall.
More than fifty years have passed and I’m blessed with a family of my own, a seaside farm and a many years of horses and ponies. Our barn is ancient but solid, its’ timbers put together carefully with wooden pegs. A place of calm focus away from the holiday frenzy of the shopping mall . And across the field stands the venerable old barn of my next door neighbors. Inside, in the light from a dusty window a small grey donkey looks up from his hay. A small grey donkey marked forever with the cross of Christ in memory of a stable long ago.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
My camera is unavailable for a few days, thus the inconsistency of color from the previous postings. I had the original painting scanned to a disc and seem to have lost some contrast and clarity in fumbling about in the resizing/uploading process. Anyhow this happy pair is finished, unless I cant resist fiddling a wee bit with it tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
The hair is basically anything left on my mixing tray and a few sprays of water.
Skin tones going on the legs, being careful to go around the sun dapples.
Concentrating on getting the reflected lights right..a streak of new gamboge inside the top left upper leg, and along the jaw lines.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
It starts to look scary at this point with the underlying colors going in. Putting in some greens to kill that white background will help.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Looking at 4 days of rain here, we can count on free entertainment at the beach, with smashing crashing roaring waves to ooh and ahh at.
Todays tide seemed to be really high, the water was spilling over the top of the wharf and all over the parking area. I keep checking the cellar here, so far the water is staying in the drainage trench in the concrete floor , going out the pipe as it should, and flying out in a waterfall at the pond end of things.
I think in a few years, with rising sea levels they will lose the covered bridge in the village if something isnt done to raise it. The water was 4 inches below the bridge on the sea side and the bridge wall was underwater on the creek side with the bridge acting as a dam. Its a tidal creek with the water swirling in both directions at high tide.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I always loved cows. As a child I milked a lot of them, Barbara was my favorite, a beautiful Guernsey who let me ride on her bony back. She must have been so glad when Bessie the pony arrived.
Continueing my foray into acrylics, I've been working on this painting the last few days, its a sort of learn as I go process, unlike watercolor its so easy to make corrections. This one is 9"x12". I hope I can get a little faster.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
So the kids all over England would go house to house with their refrain,"pennies for the guy?" collecting change to buy fireworks for bonfire night. The evening of november 5 was looked forward to with great excitement as families lit backyard fires, threw their "guy" into the flames, and shot off enormous amounts of fireworks.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
I Meant To Do My Work Today
by Richard LeGallienne
I meant to do my work today,