Posted by: L | November 29, 2013

Ian Rankin and me

Well, it isn’t really quite like that, but I did have my own Ian Rankin moment this week. When the new McNally Robinson Book Store catalogue came out, I browsed through as usual, and there it was! Ian Rankin was coming to talk at the book store on Tuesday, November 26. Lots of exclamation points!!! Ian Rankin is my favourite author, one whom I have been reading for at least 20 years, and whose books I have been collecting for quite a while now. I can’t even remember how I came across him. I love mystery/detective fiction and got into reading the British writers like Colin Dexter (Inspector Morse) and Dorothy Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey), plus many others. So haunting that part of the library I saw one of Ian Rankin’s books and that had me hooked.

Initially I got them at the library, but liked them so much that I wanted to have my own copies, and then wanted the earlier books too. The first Inspector Rebus novel was Knots and Crosses (1987). I think I saw either his first or second Rebus novel and have been an avid (not quite rabid) reader and collector since. I have a number of special pieces as well as first editions and autographed copies.




So, seeing that he was actually coming to our city, well, not to be missed for sure. The event was free, you just had to be there to get a seat. My friend and I decided we’d get there just before 6 pm, then wait around until 7:30 when it would start. When we got there, we were at the start of the line, and we got to go and sit in the restaurant and wait. Very nice. Then just a few minutes before the talk was to start, they put more chairs up front, so off we went. We were about 10 ft away, great view. Meanwhile, something close to 200 people had been coming in to the store and lining up. Only a few actually made it into the restaurant, so our planning really paid off.

Just before time, this tall man walked in with a couple of other people and sat almost in front of us, and there he was. I felt like a school kid. So much fun. After an introduction by Saskatchewan writer Gail Bowen, Ian Rankin began his talk. It was very interesting and entertaining to say the least. He is an engaging and humorous speaker and had lots of stories to tell, about his writing and his characters.

He talked about how he came to write this series, coming as a result of his interest in Scottish writers that he studied at university. He particularly was interested in Robert Louis Stevenson and the Jekyll and Hyde concept. He talked about Stevenson’s own upbringing and interests which likely led to those stories, including a link, via a cupboard, to Deacon Brodie. All wonderfully gothic. His own love of stories and words lead him to writing. His first book, The Flood, was published by a student press. It was followed the next year by Knots and Crosses in 1987, the first Rebus. As Ian noted, he loves words and also said that this first book was really a student piece (he was a postgrad at this time). He says there are some sentences that even he doesn’t understand, but thought they sounded good. Knots and Crosses (a game), Rebus (a game), and characters such as Holmes (nod to Sherlock) are an indication of the enjoyment he has in writing. One other thing that he does is for each new book, he auctions off a ‘spot’ in the novel – if you win the bid, you get written into the story – for charity.

He also talked about how his relates to his characters, how he really likes Rebus but is sure Rebus would find him boring. About how Sioban started as a minor character but grew through her own strength to become a major one. About how he started out writing the Rebus stories in real time, and Rebus as a 41 year-old Detective Sergeant, not realizing the implications. One of his readers, an Edinburgh policeman, got in touch one day, asking what he intended to do with Rebus next year when he turned 60. It turned out that at the time, police officers were required to retire at 60, unbeknownst to the writer. Hence the retirement of Rebus. Then Ian found out about the cold case squad which was just being set up, so he was able to bring him back later. On the this BBC website, it is interesting because it shows the ‘Bible John’ case, which figures into the Rebus stories. Recently, the retirement requirement was removed and allowed Rebus’ application to rejoin the force, albeit right where he was when the stories began, as a DS. Also, when he started his first story, he knew nothing about policing etc, so wrote a letter to the Chief Superintendent outlining what he was doing. He immediately got an interview with two police, who suggested he undergo an interview like a suspect. It turned out that there was a real case, very much like he was writing about, and they considered him as a suspect for a period of time, thinking that he had come in to play games with them. So serendipity has played an real part in the stories as well.

There was another interesting twist, in that there is really a John Rebus in Edinburgh, who got in touch with Ian after the stories gained popularity. Ian had just made up the name, because of the puzzle connection. Turns out that the real Rebus was in the local phone book, lived on Rankin Avenue and had a Polish ancestry. If you know the stories, that is the connection to the Polish community.

Ian talked about how he collects snippets of newspapers, ideas, words etc and puts them into a file, and when it is time to write, he pulls it all out, spreads it around and gets his ideas for the next story. I found this interesting as it was again like putting out puzzle pieces and solving them. Someone asked if he always knew how the book would end when he started to write. Exactly the opposite, it turns out. He has no idea how the story will end, lets the story and characters determine the outcome. And what was the hardest part? Page 65. Why page 65? Well, in the first part of the story, the criminal event happens, all the procedural things get underway, and the events and characters are set up, and by that time it is page 65. Then the real story has to begin.

He had a funny story about the previous Rebus novel, Standing in Another Man’s Grave. He said that although he loves music, he has a bad ear for lyrics and often falls prey to the mondegreen. He had been listening to a song by a Scottish musician, Jackie Leven (with whom he did a musical collaboration) and thought the line was “standing in another man’s grave”. The actual live was “standing in another man’s rain”. Also, his publisher didn’t like the title, saying it was too long. Ian came back that is was no longer than ‘Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’, which wasn’t the best rejoinder, because his publisher had turned down GWDT. In the end, the title went as first written.

Ian has a lot of other interests too, like music, and has done all kinds of collaborative projects with people. Check out his website for an overview.

So here is a photo of the talk. He went on for over an hour and it was not only entertaining but interesting to hear about the writer’s life. He said that writers are children who still play with their invisible friends.




After the presentation, he signed copies of his newest book, Saints of the Shadow Bible. I had ordered a copy from the UK (I like to get the hardback version from the UK) before I even knew Ian was coming here, and luckily it arrived a few days beforehand, so I was able to get it signed.

When it was my turn, I said to Ian, “I haven’t lined up for anything like this since the Beatles in 1964”. He said, “You saw the Beatles live? Where? I never got to see them and always wanted to”. When he signed my copy, under the signature, he started to draw a knots and crosses. I said, “A knots and crosses – thank you  so much!” and he said, “Would you like a hangman too?”, and started to draw one. So I got an extra special, to me, autograph.



And then, to top it off, he saw my camera and said, here let’s take a photo!!

ian and mesm

So, a thoroughly enjoyable time with my favourite writer, who gave me my favourite Ian Rankin moment. Thank you Mr Rankin!


Posted by: L | November 9, 2013

My uncle’s easel

Not too long ago, I received a note from one of my cousins. My aunt has sold her house, and was moving to her new place. She has asked my cousin to pass on to me, that if I would like it, I could have my uncle’s easel. Needless to say, I was really touched by this. Of course I said yes, then spent some time on the phone arranging to have it picked up, packed up, and shipped from the coast to the prairies. It arrived and it is now in my little studio. Here it is – it fits! It spent many years looking out a window that had a view of Vancouver. It will be a big adjustment to having a much smaller view, and of months of snow.


My uncle was George Bates, a well-known painter in Vancouver. I wrote about him here when he died, almost exactly four years ago. George was really instrumental in encouraging me to begin painting, so it is so lovely to have his easel.


This is a close up of the crank that winds the shelf up and down to adjust for standing, sitting, and canvas size. I love all the paint all over it and the shelf. It is such a tangible connection to all the years George painted.

My cousin’s son has put a large number of George’s paintings. I love looking through them as it reminds me of when I would visit and we would talk about his paintings that he was working on. I am looking forward to painting on it this winter. It is so nice to have a proper easel, particularly for working on larger pieces. My small field easel was pretty precarious for such work. Thank you to my aunt and cousins for giving this to me.


Posted by: L | September 24, 2013

Seasons change

And so did I? (from No Time by the Guess Who,1969; this vid from 2012, so Burton is still rockin’ it 43 years later)



I can only hope. Summer has come and gone, and now autumn has arrived with all that entails. Weather-wise it was a good summer, the garden did well. I rebuilt the garden boxes, so only had a couple of tomato plants this year. That was okay as I just went to the Farmers’ Market more often. Now it is time to start the deconstruction phase. Also getting back into the autumn routines. I keep going to the Field House all year round, but piano and Artists’ Workshop are autumn/winter activities. Piano has begun, and AW starts tomorrow; it will be good to see everyone again.

Back in the beginning of July, I finished my first drawing class with Craig. You can read and see about it over here at Redberry Art. I have now begun to work on a second Bargue. Craig is going to have an ongoing class that you can just keep taking month by month so that you can progress from the first Bargues to drawing from casts all the way to painting, so I have embarked on that. I love the meditative work of the Bargues. Time vanishes when working on them. After this one, I will do a third one, doing it without all the measuring, training my eye to see the proportions and shadows. I was at the University not long ago and went into the Museum of Antiquities. It is one of those treasures on campus most people don’t know about. They have beautiful original and reproduction pieces of classical statuary and they are very well lit for determining shadows. I am going to see if one is permitted to draw there as it will be a great resource for practicing cast drawing. I can imagine sitting in that quiet space during the winter.

As an aside, keeping in the autumn vein, here is a video of the Equinox illumination at sunrise in Cairn T at Loughcrew, Ireland. That also led me to the website Knowth, which hosts this video. It shows Irish burial mounds, labyrinths and art. Beautiful. I don’t have a bucket list per se, but Ireland is somewhere I want to go. It would be fascinating to see this phenomenon that has been occurring for about 5300 years. Humbling.

I saw a quote from Nelson Mandela – ‘May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.’ This really struck a chord with me today, as I have been reflecting most of the summer on choices I have made over the years. Looking at them in light of this statement, it is revealing how many were likely made from fear, not from hope. More to think about.

There is much that I like about this time of year, new beginnings, the light, the clear skies, birds migrating. If only it didn’t have to be followed by winter! At least the long winters here on the prairies. I am hoping that maybe come the new year, when a certain someone is finally retired, we can do the snow bird thing and fly this coop for a couple of the worst months. I understand the attractiveness of that now that I am a senora.

Oh, there is a woodpecker in the back yard. Lots of flickers around too. Oh, and now a blue jay at the water dish! Well, back to finishing making juice from the sour cherries. I’ll make jelly later when it is cold out. Must go out and see if I can get any pictures.




Posted by: L | June 15, 2013

Inner limits

It seems like one day, you just come up against your inner limits. You go along, doing your stuff, and then one day, there was one stuff too many. Then you have to sit yourself down and have a conversation with yourself about your limits.

My day was last Sunday. I am the kind of person who just keeps on going, doing this and that, going here and there, not in a frantic kind of way, but just steadily going along. I have my routines (painting day, exercise class, piano lesson, etc), plus all the regular stuff of day to day life. Also I take on things that need doing. And I have been able to do it. By Sunday though, I realized that, as much as I like doing all the things I do, I am going to have to change the pace. In my head I am about 22 years old; on the outside I am 3 times that. Hence the disconnect that announced itself. So it is time to bring the outer limits in line with the inner ones. To quote James Lacey in a recent article on aging, “I’d not realized that slowing down was to be understood literally.”



me spring 2013



This is not to say that I am suddenly headed for the rocker, but I have to start saying no to some things, to cut back a little here and there, to delegate some stuff, and to really assess if I want to really do that, or go there, or participate in this. I love to be engaged in things, but I don’t like being so tired that I can’t do any of them. Balance, balance, balance, with a new weight on the other end of the teeter-totter.

A piece that has been making the rounds on Facebook lately, called Five Top Regrets of the Dying, is quite revealing too. Several of the points truly echo with me, as I imagine they do with most people. There is not only the inner and outer physical dimensions of getting older, but also the mental aspects too, like coming to terms with the “what was I thinking?”, “why did I do that,” “that was a good idea,” “in retrospect I should have made that decision” etc etc. To quote another writer, “it is unreasonable to use what you know in the present to judge your actions in the past”. Mulling these events and milestones over, recognizing them, accepting them, learning from them, and then moving on, hopefully with better insight and knowledge, seems to be the work in progress these days.

There is a funny-but-true article I recently saw about aging gracefully, written by Virginia Sullivan, ‘Aging Gracefully? No Way. When I read it though, I thought it described exactly that. Cut the crap, keep on learning, take some risks, live in the present. It is fun to be able to surf around and find all these sites and quotes and just meander through them, taking what you like, and leaving anything that doesn’t fit. I like Tiny Buddha for some things. Yes lots of new-agey stuff, but you don’t have to bite and buy into it all. That’s the best part of now, being able to sift through to find the useful nuggets.

I have been fortunate in many ways, and I am very thankful for that. As in any life, there have been and will be difficult spots and stretches too. Setting my new inner limits on what I can and will do and accept seems to be the work of this next phase. So I’ll get a cup of tea, and sit down more often and write in my journal, start eliminating a lot of the extraneous stuff of all kinds. Begin to simplify, gain some peacefulness, start aging gracefully. Bring on the physical and mental boxes for packing it all up!

Posted by: L | April 27, 2013

Finally, spring

lk apr 2013

Today, we finally had spring weather, mild air, sunshine, making the snow melt quickly now. I am pink in the face from spending a couple of hours raking snow mould off the grass, most of which is now clear of snow. Snow mould, lovely allergen that is is, is rampant this year. We set records – longest stretch of days below zero, snow sticking around, close to record amounts of snow etc. So everyone is now smiling a lot. However there has been a positive aspect to the extended cool days. The snow melt has happened gradually so flooding around here hasn’t happened, thank goodness.

snow mould

A dense patch of snow mould on the grass. Almost the entire surface of the grass is covered this year. Nasty stuff. You have to rake or sweep it off so it doesn’t kill the grass. I have never seen this much before – it is everywhere.

snow pile The last big pile of snow, taken yesterday. By this afternoon, the farther pile is nearly gone. This one will take a couple more days.

The best part is that there have been lots of butterflies dancing about. It was so pleasant today to be out in the yard, with butterfly shadows everywhere, and lots of birds around.



And there are all kinds of shoots starting to show, a little later than usual, but they are there. It looks like this might be a good year for the perennials and some other plants. Because the snow came so early, the ground didn’t likely freeze as hard or as to a great a depth as it often does. So it looks like some tender plants have overwintered. I’ll be waiting to see how the tender roses faired.

lavenderSeveral of the lavender plants have green growth on them, from under the snow of all things. So I am hopeful there will be lots of survivors. Lavender usually doesn’t overwinter here. I might get some nice big bushes of it which would be lovely.

We have managed to endure another winter. Now that I can finally get out into the garden, I am feeling much more optimistic. It has been a more difficult winter this year on a number of levels. I hope that spring brings better days all around.


Posted by: L | March 30, 2013

All wretch and no…

A youtube video has been making the rounds recently, and I have seen it come by on the social network a few times now. It is ‘If money were no object‘ by philosopher Alan Watts. It is one of those inspirational type of pieces, short and to the point. The thing was that the name, Alan Watts, rang a very vague bell and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I finally got around to looking him up and I sort of started to remember. The thing that had thrown me off was that the voice speaking on the video was British, and on looking him up, I found that he had lived many years in California, and was very involved in teaching during the 1960s and 70s. Then I started to remember a bit. He was particularly interested in Buddhism and was one of the early proponents who wrote extensively about it. This became very popular during this time of social upheaval.

I think I read some of his writing way back then; a browse through the basement didn’t turn up any though. There are a lot of videos  of his talks on line so it will be interesting to follow up on a few more.

This sort of video can make you think about how your own life has gone along. I particularly like the line here, that if you don’t follow what your heart says to do, then it it is “all wretch and no vomit”, that is a lot of work but no satisfactory outcome. Very well put.

me 68 sm

This was me in 1968, in my shockingly short kaftan (home made of course). My mother wouldn’t take the picture of all of me. This was the mini skirt days. When I wore this, she had fits about me taking the bus because it was too short! and people would see my underwear!

What was I thinking in those days? What did I really want to do? My cousin and I were the first in our family to head off to university. I was at UBC heading into 4th year Microbiology. I recently saw a statistic that said that I was one of 0.2% of women who got a science degree at that time. Who knew? I went into the sciences; I did like them. I also liked the arts and leaving a small town for a big city/big university provided all kinds of interesting opportunities. I really loved visiting the art gallery in the basement of the main library. I wonder if it is still there. I still have a programme from a show of Japanese calligraphy I saw then. I saw all the shows that MUSSOC, and was a volunteer stage hand with them for a couple of years. I saw plays at the Vancouver Playhouse. When I had space for an elective, I took an arts class. I went to all the arts festival films, and such. Dance programs – Merce Cunningham still is a memory. And then the dances and rock bands etc.

Listening to the Alan Watts piece made me think back to those days and what direction I chose. I chose the sciences, and practiced in that field for many years. The arts weren’t a real choice then, unless you were planning to go into teaching which wasn’t for me. I really didn’t know enough about the arts except that it was something you did for fun while you got on with what you did for a living. In the back of my mind though, I always wanted to learn to draw and paint. And eventually I did. Now, 45 years later, I am doing what I love to do, and I am actually going to get to take a drawing class, finally, after all these years. I will be writing about that over on Redberry Art.

So has it all been ‘all wretch and no vomit’ for me? In some ways yes, in others, no. Probably just like most people.

Posted by: L | March 3, 2013

The winter of my discontent?

IMG_6248IMG_6251If I thought we had a lot of snow in December, now in March we can hardly move for it. We started getting leaks in the ceilings from 2 ice dams so had to get someone to go to the second story and the garage to take off the snow. Then a bobcat to move piles from the front. The pile in the back (top photo) took me 10 days to move by hand. Everyone is concerned about how this will all melt. In the nearly 40 years since we have been here, I don’t remember this much snow. It has been a long haul in more ways than one.

I was looking back at the previous post and couldn’t believe it was 4 months ago. I was looking forward to an enjoyable holiday. Some of it was, and some of it wasn’t. Since then I have been in the process of some serious self-reflection. That is never an easy thing to do and it will continue for a while yet. In the end it will be a good thing; in the meantime, not so much.

Meantime, life shuffles on. I was hoping for a summer without much house stuff to do, after having the past 2 taken up with various repairs. Looks like it isn’t to be. The electrician came yesterday. There is a part of the old house that needs to be redone, plus the panel redone, and better to get it done now. Some day the house will get sold and better to have the electrics up to snuff. He is the first domino in the pack. With the ice dams on the roof, that means roof inspection, maybe replacement, more vents, more insulation. Also new eaves troughs. Then ceilings have to be repaired from the leakage. So there is the list for this year. Maybe I can get some new kitchen lights if we are making a mess anyway.

I do plan to get away though. I have a pile of air miles that hasto be used by year’s end and I intend to. I have my eye on a couple of painting workshops in France. Will see what works out. Also a trip to the coast at some point too, maybe after the art show and before garden season begins. A break would be lovely on many levels.

Art wise, our annual show is coming up in about 6 weeks, and we are going to do Art Trek again. I am busy getting ready for that. Redberry Art is almost ready to go, so it should be operational soon. I have photos to take and put up as well. There goes the dryer, time to fold.

Posted by: L | December 4, 2012

December, already

We are well into a classic prairie winter this year. Already there is a lot of snow and it has been colder than average as well. Here is a look out my window to the back yard right now. Out front we have a big pile of snow already. Snow management, is that a skill?

back yard 2012



Here we are into December; November always seems to speed by. This Christmas my lovely daughter and her lovely partner will be coming here for a visit. I am looking forward to spending time with them. They came last year, Bruno’s first winter in Canada. He had hoped to experience the ‘real Canadian winter’, only it didn’t materialize. We had balmy (for us) temperatures and essentially no snow then. I think I only wore my parka twice. It was rather bizarre.  So this year we will be able to provide him with the proper experience for sure! I am wondering about renting snow shoes.

December really is the time for traditions isn’t it? I have baked my Christmas cakes so they will be nice and mellow. Cookies and other goodies will be done closer to the date, otherwise I will simply eat them all and have to do it over again. I have learned from previous experience. I use lots of family recipes, and have learned how to modify them for various dietary requirements. It is interesting how one can make old recipes in new ways and have them turn out quite acceptable.

Our Field House Ladies group will have our annual lunch together next week. This is a group of about 10-11 women who meet regularly, usually three times a week, at our local civic facility for fitness classes. The first of members of the group began there in 1979. I started in about March of 1981. I went to exercise after Ariane was born. I was doing my own thing and noticed a group of women exercising and running with a group. They invited me to join and we have all been getting together on and off since. For many years we jogged, indoors in the winter, and outdoors the rest of the year. Then we got older, and we walked and did the exercise classes. Now it is mostly classes with walking in the summer. I worked on and off over that time, but always went back. A few new women have joined in, a couple left, two have passed away over the years. We go to lunch at the University Club (formerly the Faculty Club) and our aim is to make sure we get some of their traditional Christmas pudding with sauce. The rest of the lunch is excellent too, but the pudding is why we really go.

Our Artists Workshop group will get together as well, and although I am new to the group, they have been doing this for 23 years. We get together and have appetizers and desserts and wine. And we make cards for each other, which is great fun. Here are the ones I have done for this year. I was experimenting with paper cutting for a mixed media piece I started and thought I’d use it for the cards.



Now I just need to find a source of real Japanese oranges. I am hoping the Co-op will get them soon. As far back as I can remember, ‘Christmas oranges’ were from Japan. We always had one in the toe of our Christmas stocking. Then, they came in these great little wooden crates. Here is a fun bit of information I found out about them. We lived near Vancouver so got them right away. They have been coming to Canada since the 1880s – that is a long time! Although I had a search about, I couldn’t find any photos of the crates. These were saved and used for all kinds of things. I had a ‘dressing table’ made by stacking a couple of boxes on each side, topping with a board, and sewing a cotton skirt around it. They were made into all kinds of things.

This weekend, a couple more arts and crafts shows to take in as well. We are so fortunate here in our city to have such a talented and diverse group of people. It is great fun to prowl the shows to find unique things for presents, which also helps support our local artists.

So onward, December!


Posted by: L | November 11, 2012


I am very short-sighted, as in, I can only see a few inches away without glasses. (The other short-sighted is a topic for another day.) This morning, I happened to look at myself in the mirror without my glasses. Of course, I don’t usually because all I see is a blur, something like this. In that blur I caught a glimpse of what I used to look like, many years ago. It was a little startling. Inside one’s own mind, or at least mine, it seems much the same up there.

The exterior undergoes that slow shift – gravity, greyness, time, lines. I can see why older television personalities like to use that screen that blurs the edges. It holds the appearance of years ago. But it isn’t real. I guess that is why we relate our later years to the winter season, when the snow blurs the edges.

We are getting winter early this year, I guess to make up for almost having none last year. It has been snowing for more than 24 hours now. This morning when the wind was still, I took this photo of the railing. It looks like a face, blurred on the edges.


Time starts to blur a bit too. I read an item in the Globe and Mail that as we get older, we are prone to ‘foreward telescoping’ apparently. A new book about time perception by Claudia Hammond talks about how we lose track of how long ago things happened when we get older. There is a short quiz at the end. I only got a couple right on, the others were a few years off. In the last while I have been reflecting back on my life and it is getting blurry for sure. I have been thinking it might be interesting to sit down and write, with pen and paper no less, what I remember. It would also be interesting if I could get my siblings to do it too. Our remembrances are such personal and skewed things.

Today is a day of remembrance as well. I always stop and take time to think about the men in the family who were in the two World Wars – my paternal grandfather, my Dad and his brother, who all survived, and my Mum’s brother, who was killed at 22. I know very little about their experiences; they didn’t talk about it other than some stories about the times they had when they were not in the actual war front, but in training, or waiting to be sent out. I am sure that their experiences coloured the rest of their lives, but in what way? It will always be a mystery because they are all gone now. A wistful day, as usual.


As an aside, it has been some time since the last posting. In the interim, the hard drive of my computer died. Fortunately I didn’t lose too much as I had backed up most files a couple of weeks earlier. I did lose some email addresses but have got most of them back. I had quite a few photos still on my camera so didn’t really lose anything there either. I got a new drive put in, with more RAM (4x as much as before, so much faster). Then upgrading/reinstalling etc. so it was a couple of weeks before really back up to speed after the replacement. I realized just how much I use this thing! Now I have a permanent external backup drive that updates daily. I will still back up on my other smaller drive as a secondary from time to time. I am also considering putting more on the ‘cloud’. I just came across an art cloud storage site that I plan to look at more closely. Although I probably really don’t need it. I can just put files on google docs, or whatever it is called now.

Well, off to shovel a bit more snow and make a path for the dog.



Posted by: L | September 21, 2012

Autumnal equinox

Here we are, arriving at another turn of a season, end of summer, start of autumn. We have had a very nice summer this year, lots of long warm days. I’ll be sorry to see them go. I do like the light of September though.  It seems like light is the focus of all the changes of the seasons, with the length of days, the amount of light and quality of light  changing with each transition. Each transitional time also often is associated with fire or fires.
Back in the spring, I came across a blog by Felicity Hayes-McCoy  who writes about her house in Ireland, which was the source for her new book, ‘The House on the Irish Hillside’. It is a book I plan to order shortly, along with Ian Rankin‘s newest book coming out in November, ‘Standing in Another Man’s Grave’.
She wrote a blog about the solstice, ‘Summer Solstice on the Dingle Peninsula‘ back in June, which quoted an ancient poem about the sun. The poem is by the poet Amergen, who speaks the words of the oldest Irish poem in written record.
“It’s an expression of the enduring strength of water, earth and fire. And it invokes the power of the Sun God.”
“I am the wind in the sea.
I am a sea-wave on the land.
I am the sound  of the sea.
I am a bull of seven battles.
I am an eagle on a cliff.
I am a teardrop from the sun.
I am the most beautiful of plants.
I an a wild boar for valour.
I am a salmon in a pool.
I am a lake in a plain.
I am the excellence of art.
I am the head of a spear in battle.
I am the God who puts Fire in the head.
Who spreads light on the gathering in the hills?
Who tells the ages of the moon?
Who knows the place where the sun stands?”
I really love the imagery in the lines. “I am the excellence of art.” I couldn’t find a date for when this was written, but apparently Amergen was the first mortal to set foot on Irish land, so it must go back a very long time.
Since the last posting, I had a short trip out to Vancouver, to meet Bruno’s parents from Belgium. They are lovely people, and his mother and I have so much in common it was amazing. I didn’t take a lot of photos, but did catch a sunset one day. The weather was very pleasant and we stayed near English Bay. This was from the hotel; we were on the 23rd floor so had a good view.
Now it time to be getting back into the routine of autumn. Our painting group, Artists’ Workshop gets underway for the season next week. It will be good to get back into the regular rhythm of our weekly painting sessions. I only did a couple of small pieces this summer. Now it is time to work on putting the garden to bed for another season. I have lots of autumn colour.
I plan to set up a number of still lifes out in the yard this weekend in the late afternoon to get some good light. I picked up some good veggies at the farmers’ market last weekend, so will use them as well.
Just an aside. Redberry Art is undergoing upgrades and some redesign, so not much is happening on it at the moment. I have a tentative new front page which I really like. I just have to decide how I want to display my paintings. Once that is done, I can get them reorganized and the site underway again.
I’d like to get some sunset photos from here too. I need to drive out of town to the east I think. I’ll see if I actually get around to it. I’d like to do some work incorporating metal leaf again. Also, I got new paints – water soluble oils – which will be interesting to try, plus some Arches paper for oil painting (this is a great little video about using the paper), something new.  It looks like this combination might be good for traveling, i.e. easy to transport paper, and possibly quicker drying oils. It will be interesting to experiment. Lots to try!

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