Well, it's official. We've enlisted the aid of a realtor to help us find a new home in British Columbia. We love our house here on the prairies, but just can't handle the weather any more. It's a land of extremes here, with temperatures dropping to -40 degrees Celsius in the winter (and that's not including the windchill factor) and soaring to the mid-thirties during the summer months. The wind is a constant on most days and it's relentless. It's a move of choice, not necessity, so it may take some time to find the right place. In the meantime, we're preparing for a move. I'm not exactly sure how it's all going to play out and just the thought of moving the chickens makes me hyperventilate. I'm praying for an easy transition. Wish us luck! Anything new in your world that you'd care to share? I'd love to hear.
We've had an extremely dry Spring this year and are currently experiencing a heatwave with temperatures in the mid-thirties Celsius. Naturally, it's the one time when we don't have a hint of a breeze to help give even the illusion of cooler temperatures. It's at times like these that my Mother Hen comes out in me. Which is good for my animals, I suppose, but keeps me in a constant state of anxiety worrying about their welfare. Because the hens ate every last blade of grass in their run last year, The Frenchman built a chicken tractorfor them earlier this year so we can get them out on the lawn. It's been working really well, but with the soaring temperatures, we decided to let them free range yesterday so they could find comfort on their own. They behaved quite responsibly and stayed close to the house. It's also where the best shade could be found. We kept several waterers filled with fresh, cool water and added electrolytes, as well. I also wet down the grass frequently to help cool their feet. Frozen unsweetened applesauce is an excellent treat for them in this heat and it also helps maintain proper gut bacteria. Our dog, Willow, enjoys it as well. Speaking of Willow, both our dog and cat were extremely polite with the hens and Pearl, our rooster, didn't seem at all concerned about them either. All in all, a good day all things considered.
I'm slowly beginning to return to the land of the living. The trouble with being sick for so long is that things tend to pile up and I was faced with a long list of things to do once I started to feel better. I took my time weeding my garden plot and planting a few things that have been successful in the past. It won't be a big garden this year. After the demoralizing harvest we had last year, hailstorms notwithstanding, I wasn't going to wear myself out over it. I still tire easily and am approaching it as a lesson in self-compassion by resting when I need to and generally cutting myself some slack. I've started to spend time in my studio again and, while I haven't committed to another 100 Day Project, it is my intention to establish a daily practice. I have a ritual of sorts I employ when I sit down to create. I bring a cup of freshly brewed herbal tea with me, light a candle and invite my muse to join me, along with whatever agents of good would like to enter into my company. I highly recommend this TedTalk by Elizabeth Gilbert. I've also gotten into the habit of listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks when I sit down to illustrate. I never read the series and do enjoy the imagination of J.K. Rowlings. It also seems to occupy my left brain so my right brain can be free to create without critique. What about you? Do you have creative rituals you engage in? I would love to hear.
All in all, 2015 has been a disappointing year, so far.
My husband and I have been struggling with our health since February and we now have Walking Pneumonia. We're on our second round of antibiotics and resting as much as we can. It's sapping our energy and we have barely enough to accomplish the simplest of tasks. Walking up a flight of stairs has me huffing and puffing like I've run a marathon.
Consequently, my plans for this year have been severely curtailed until I recover. I was unable to keep up with the daily drawing and set it aside in favour of afternoon naps. I did enjoy the practice and I will begin anew .... when my health returns.
In the meantime, my priorities are all about getting well and looking after my animals. I'll check in from time to time and hope to have better news soon!
The drawing continues. I'm starting to fall into an uneasy rhythm. I say that because most days, I feel like this is just one more thing that I have to get done in an already busy day. That said, I'm determined to make time for it.
Even if I only have time to toss off a quick sketch on the back of a shopping list, as I did the other day when we took a day trip out of town. The hawk in the top right was the result, hastily drawn at a restaurant table with what I had on hand in my purse before our meal was served. All of that aside, I'm enjoying this project. I'm enjoying the discipline and the creative process as much as, or more than, the finished project. I'm also pleased to see a body of work forming in my sketchbook. And, you? What have you been up to lately? I'd love to hear.
It's been a busy week. In addition to my regular responsibilities, there was a thorough Spring Cleaning, that included washing doggy nose prints off windows, baking and, of course - drawing. I'm 10 days into the 100 Days of Drawing project and there have already been days when I feel like the creative well has run dry. Nevertheless, I sit down at my desk, light my candle and put pencil to paper. Amazingly, something comes out. This quote has been a big source of encouragement to me this past week: "Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they're deciding, make even more art." Andy Warhol, Artist. What has your week been like? I'd love to hear.
With the sporadic return of warmer weather, I'm finally beginning to rise out of the dark funk I've been in for the past several months. Blame it on the winter season, the flu or some other thing, it doesn't really matter, the result was the same. Inertia. One of the things I've committed to doing in an attempt to revive my creativity is to take part in the #100DaysofMaking project. I've chosen to Draw every day for 100 days. No pressure. No expectations. Without going too far into it, I feel that I had become too concerned with outcome. If I was going to spend my time on artwork, it had better be worthwhile, I'd better be making money at it. Sound familiar...? That, I believe, has been a major reason for my descent into the creative abyss. Just create has become my new mantra. Release attachment to outcome. Just have fun. Some days I'll only have time for a quick sketch. Other days I'll be able to spend more concentrated time on it. The point of the exercise, as I understand it, is simply to show up and honour my commitment. To this. To me. I've been using a sketchpad that is completely inappropriate for watercolour, as you can see. I think this was another way in which I had been undervaluing myself and my efforts. Beginning today, I'll be using the expensive, good quality, watercolour paper for my sketches. I'll be back to share my progress with you periodically. If you're interested in participating, it's not too late. Follow the link above or go here to read about the project from its originator, Michael Bierut.
Wow. Would you look at the time! Where did February go..? Perhaps now is a good time to mention that February was not a particularly kind month over here. Winter was mild one day and horrifically frigid the next. Somewhere along the line I fell into a creative black hole and had no interest in picking up either camera or paintbrush. It was kinda weird and I just went with it. Winter has a way of bringing out the worst in me, I won't deny it. At the beginning of the month, my husband and I decided to go vegetarian, although we're continuing to eat the eggs our own hens produce. We originally wanted to go vegan, but it's way harder than you'd imagine. So, I've had my nose buried in recipe books and my somewhat enormous magazine collection. I've discovered some really yummy meals, but it's fair to say that I'm currently a little consumed with menu planning and meal preparation. Then, about half way through the month, I got walloped by a nasty flu bug- or a whole brigade of flu bugs. It's been nearly 2 weeks and I'm just now beginning to feel like crawling out from underneath my rock. In the midst of feeling like total crap, I had a couple of health scares with my hens, as well. I won't go into detail, but all appears well again. Whew! So, I wanted to pop in here and say "Hey! I'm not dead!" And, thank you for the show of concern from several of you! It's much appreciated.
There are so many - SO MANY (!) - amazing blogs out there in Bloggerland with incredible content. They're polished, have the perfect layout and all the snazzy buttons...well, you know what I mean. You love them, but they're just so damn perfect, you know? Not a hair out of place. They're like McGyver on steroids and, let's face it, that can be a little intimidating. It may not be necessary to state the obvious, but if you're new to my blog or have been following along for a while and need a reminder - here's how I roll. I'm not a commercial blogger. I write because I need to. I post photos of things I've noticed and that speak to me in some way. Lately, I've been working on my illustration skills. I don't get paid a commission with every mouse click you make. I don't post every day, or even every week, if recent events are any indication. In case you haven't noticed, I don't have a theme I adhere to or even any particular style, which is pretty near to what you'd find if we bumped into each other on the street. I'm a pretty WYSIWYG* kinda gal, which I'd like to think is part of my charm. (I'll also use words like 'gal' without batting an eyelash). If pressed to describe the path my life takes, I'd have to say that it most closely resembles a great big body of water. Think Atlantic Ocean big. I'm the little guy in the bright yellow life raft, bobbing around somewhere in the middle there. See, look. I'm waving. Sometimes, the ocean is calm and I can enjoy a bit of a nap while taking in the sunshine and nibbling on a little something from my supply kit. At other times, the waves are rough, tossing me around like the proverbial cork. They raise me up high where I can get a glimpse of a future spent on beach chairs under luscious palm trees and at other times I'm in the trough, paddling my little heart out and puking over the side. Life's like that. My blog is a repository for memories of my experiences, my own personal therapist, and my playground, all rolled into one. It can be a bit of a messy place, at times, and I'm okay with that. I'd like my virtual home to be more organized and pretty. I'd LOVE it if it actually earned its keep. The reality is, my blog is a snapshot of my actual life, the act of which gets more of my energy on any given day. Maybe one day, I'll achieve the bright, shiny website of my dreams. I have a name picked out for it and everything. In the meantime, pull up a comfortable chair, put your feet up, grab a beverage, and let's visit like old friends. Tell me, where has your dinghy taken you today? I'd really like to know.
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Incidentally, I also sell my artwork and am not above shamelessly telling you, from time to time, that you can buy the fruits of my labour here. A girl's gotta make a living somehow. *WYSIWYG - "What you see is what you get"
I've been enjoying a bit of quiet time to myself the last few weeks, creating in my studio.
The weather has been warm enough for the hens to be let outside into the run for a bit of fresh air several days in a row and it's given me a chance to do a little heavier clean up inside their coop. The occasional cricket treat and pot of cat grass makes for very happy girls.
I've also been doing a bit of reading and these are some of the books on my virtual bedside table, all of which I would highly recommend.
* The Crabby Angels Chronicles by Jacob Glass
* Discovering Your Soul Signature by Panache Desai
* E2: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments by Pam Grout
* The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte
* The fiction writing of Michael Robotham
What have you been up to lately? I'd love to know.
As 2014 was drawing to a close, someone posed a question to me. If 2015 was an animal, what animal would you want it to be and why? Without having given it too much thought, Chameleon popped into my head. Not particularly fast moving, with the ability to adapt and occasionally reveal my colourful side. The more I think about it, the more I feel that it's the perfect fit for me and the year I envision for myself. I was compelled to create a little sketch of my mascot for the year and look forward to enjoying his company. What would your answer be? I'd love to hear.
For the past five years, I've chosen an Annual Word that serves as my guiding light for the year ahead. Even though the word I eventually chose last year never really felt like it manifested for me in any great way, I'm electing to carry this tradition into 2015. This year, as in all but 2014, words have presented themselves to me in a number of ways so that, ultimately, I feel the words have chosen me, rather than the other way around. Things look a little different this year. This year, there are three words that will serve as my touchstones for the next 365 days. The first two are:
Faith and Trust
All indications are that 2015 is going to be a year that will challenge and test my ability to weather change. I've lived by these two words in the past and know that there is tremendous power inherent in them. In addition, there's a third word that I'll call my Shadow Word. It's intimately linked with the first two and together they form my own personal holy trinity for 2015.
Surrender, as I understand it, does not mean to give up, but rather to give in to. And so, it's with a hopeful heart and a fond wave to all I leave behind in 2014 that I turn to face the year 2015. May our paths continue to cross in the days ahead and may we embrace our choices with open hearts.
2010 - Authenticity
2011 - Wellness
2012 - Flow
2013 - Courage
2014 - Gentle
Have you chosen a word for 2015? I'd love to hear.
Today is New Year's Eve. I have no profound reflections to share or rituals to prepare for. I'll be writing in my journal as I watch the sun brighten the horizon, like I do every morning. Eggs will be collected, the coop will be cleaned, and hens will be cuddled. My dog and cat will keep me company, shadowing my every move. Willow, ever the optimist, will hope for cheese treats and Luna will nap in a sunbeam. Today, I'll vacuum up the dust bunnies and hang a new calendar on the wall before my husband and I join friends for dinner and a few laughs this evening.
Tomorrow a new day will dawn, the start of a brand new year all bright and shiny with promise. Just another ordinary miracle unfolding before us. Blessings to you. May you enjoy peace, love, joy, and prosperity in 2015.
Was anyone else shocked when they noticed the date on the calendar this morning? Christmas has really snuck up on me this year. I've done very little to prepare, have only sent a present to my mother, and have written no Christmas cards.
Perhaps it's age, could be wisdom, most likely it's a form of apathy. In any event, I'm not overly worried about it and have decided to relax and just let the season wash over me like a gentle breeze.
We've been blessed with mild-ish temperatures the last few weeks. Even the chickens have had several outdoor days. I decided to pick up my camera, blow the dust off it and take Luna and Willow for a little stroll around the property today.
I was delighted to discover that Mother Nature has been busy decorating. How are you coping with the approaching holiday season?
I've been going through a period of upheaval in my life lately. Change is afoot and I'm not completely on board. It's too early to divulge any of the details, many of which haven't even been determined yet. The bottom line is, I'm not ready. And, therein lays the problem. So, I do what I do in times like these. I ask for divine guidance, I watch for signs, I eat comfort foods. I don't know if the approaching solstice has anything to do with any of this or if the Universe has simply determined that I've become too complacent and content with my life as it is. All the recent emotional turbulence has had me reflecting on the word I chose for 2014, though - Gentle. For the first time since starting this practice 5 years ago, I don't feel that I've really lived into my Annual Word. There have been moments of gentleness, sure, the truth is though, I don't feel I can honestly lay claim to Gentle as my word for 2014. At the close of 2013, I waffled a lot, choosing and discarding 2 or 3 other words before finally settling on this one in late January. Upon reflection, I don't feel I really had a guiding word for 2014, after all. 2014 will have to be recorded in my personal annuls as a Wordless Year. All of which has me approaching the practice of choosing an Annual Word with some trepidation. Please, God, don't make it too hard. I'm interviewing candidates, looking for a word I can wrap myself around, chew on, and digest in 2015. There are a couple of worthy contenders and, interestingly enough, they have similar meanings. Even (and this is where it gets really interesting), when I close my eyes, and randomly choose a word from the dictionary. Freaky. I'll continue to cast my net in the coming days before partnering up with and committing to an appropriate muse for the next 365 days. Did you have a word in 2014? Have you chosen a new one for 2015? I'd love to hear.
I took this photograph in a restaurant we visited while on vacation in Vancouver this past May. I loved this playful, creative take on the traditional crystal chandelier. Don't you think that would be a lovely way to display those mismatched crystal glasses that seem to accumulate in our cupboards?
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And so we arrive at Day Five of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge. I've thoroughly enjoyed this exercise. It requires a different eye and a different thought process to photograph in black and white. I think I'll be doing more of this style in the future.
I reworked this photograph I took last year into a black and white image. I love the stark and dramatic sculptural quality and texture of this flower. Even in death, it still offered itself up to the wild birds that came to feed in the dead of winter and there's an elegant beauty in that.
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Day Four of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.
I love this girl something fierce. My constant companion, she's equal parts intrepid explorer, playful imp, deep thinker, accomplished hunter, loyal friend, and cuddler extraordinaire. And, she doesn't seem to mind having a camera in her face.
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Day Three of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.
The other day, I caught the unmistakable scent of pine tree when my husband and I approached a local big box store and I felt a little melancholy. I love the wide open spaces of my new prairie province and miss the grandeur and majesty of my home province of British Columbia. This pine cone is one of only a few that I brought with me when we moved.
As November swiftly draws to a close, I find my thoughts turning to Christmas and, as they do every year, I dream of days spent in cozy comfort. A fire blazing in the fireplace, a cat snoozing beside me, and a fresh dusting of snow gently carpeting the landscape beyond our windows.
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I've been nominated to participate in the 5 Days of Black and White Photo Challenge on Facebook and will share my images here, as well.
Some of you have asked how it went at the holiday show I participated in this past weekend. It was something I'd never done before and I didn't get a lot of advance notice, so I only had a small offering of my work to display. This is a photo I took with my phone of my little shop that I set up in a corner of the gallery. It was a bitterly cold day and that may have accounted for the low attendance. Nevertheless, I sold a few cards and generally had a good experience. I met a few artists and a fellow who is building a non-profit business that supports local artists in my area. They host art shows and will be partnering with some established events next year, so I became a member. Interestingly enough, I found that I experienced more stress and anxiety after the show than I did before or during it. Someone told me that Brene Brown calls that a 'vulnerability hangover'. I think that's a pretty accurate assessment. All in all, I'm happy - I showed up, I did my best, and I had some fun. ***Contrary to what I've indicated in my settings, Blogger has put word verification on my comments. Please bear with me, while I do my best to rectify that.
The other day I got this overwhelming urge to knit something. Perhaps it was the sudden drop in temperatures outside, or the need to create, or simply the desire for something new to wear. Whatever the reason, I was moved to dig out my knitting needles and some yarn and knit. Now, I'm not a knitter. I pick up stitches, lose count, and sizing? - forget about it! So, the challenge was for me to find a way to satisfy my need to knit while not wasting my time completely. It's been years since I last attempted to knit something, so I needed a refresher on a few of the basics. The Knitting Help website is an excellent resource, with short, easy to follow instructional videos that'll have you knitting like a pro in under 5 minutes. I decided to knit myself a scarf because I figured it couldn't get any easier than that and since I didn't have a pattern, I simply made it up as I went along. For those of you who are equally challenged with knitting needles, I humbly present the instructions for The Simplest Scarf You Ever Did See so you can create your own: The Simplest Scarf You Ever Did See. Supplies: I used 5 1/2 mm. knitting needles, approx. 2 balls of 50 g. (1 3/4 oz.) cotton yarn, wool needle, and ribbon. *I made the scarf long enough to be able to wrap it around my neck once. You can adjust the width and length according to your own preferences. Method: Cast on 35 stitches 5 rows stocking stitch (a row of knit, a row of pearl) 3 rows reverse stocking stitch (the opposite of above) 3 rows stocking stitch 3 rows reverse stocking stitch Repeat previous 4 steps 2x 14 rows stocking stitch 3 rows reverse stocking stitch 3 rows stocking stitch 3 rows reverse stocking stitch Repeat previous 4 steps 10x 14 rows stocking stitch 3 rows reverse stocking stitch 3 rows stocking stitch 3 rows reverse stocking stitch 5 rows stocking stitch Repeat all 2x Bind off. Thread a length of ribbon on the wool needle and weave it through the stocking stitch section between the two rows of reverse stocking stitch. Tie off the ends and leave them to hang loose slightly beyond the border of the scarf. Enjoy!
All content and photos are original to Carolynn Anctil and A Glowing Ember and are copyrighted, 2006 - 2015. Please do not copy, or download any content without express written consent. All content and photos remain the sole property of Carolynn Anctil and A Glowing Ember forever unto eternity. Don't take what doesn't belong to you. Karma will kick your ass. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I'm a Superficial Dabbler - I know a little bit about a lot of things and I'm an expert at none of them. I’m a city girl with a country soul, a curious nature, and a very short attention span. I believe that animals are angels wrapped in fur, come down from heaven to model unconditional love.
I have decided not to display the awards that I receive. If you like my blog, leave me a comment. I read and appreciate them all. It's the connection with the friends I make here that I treasure the most.