Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Christmas Bonus.

I work for a living.  I spend my days in a beige cubicle staring predominately at a computer screen,  sometimes at documents, and other times at spreadsheet data.  Occasionally I meet with clients or the public and largely these are thankless meetings.  While I do my best to balance conflicting wants, often at the end of the day no one is happy, and I’m exhausted after being yelled at. Yes you read that right – yelled at. It is then that I look forward to the next time I can stare at little numbers in the silence of my spreadsheet without my phone ringing. 

No one ever thanks me for a job well done, and there are no Christmas bonuses.  In fact downsizing and budget cuts took out my last job while I was on maternity leave and I was lucky enough that there was a vacancy in another branch I could slip into.  Others haven’t been so lucky.  More than a few folks in my office will find themselves out of work come the new year.  Some have over 15 years of service… but it doesn't seem to matter. It is the “new” way of doing business we are told. 

My life as an artist – is one of pursuing a passion.  It is not a way to put bread on the table.  So I will not be giving up that beige cubicle any time soon.  However there are moments when I do manage to sell an original painting where upon I jump up and down and run to my husband and say… “GUESS WHAT???!!??”  “I sold and original!!!”  Some one actually likes what I do enough to want to purchase it for what it is worth and put it on their wall!   These are my bonuses.  These are moments of redemption – but they give me hope in a world driven by the economic bottom line.

So to whomever made my Christmas a little bit brighter, I thank you.  I really do hope you enjoy your new piece of art.  It was made with love and brought me joy in it’s creation – I hope it will bring you pleasure in it’s new home.

So you ask – what was it that sold?   It was a winter scene – so apt given the recent weather.  

When Snow Came A Falling
Watercolour on Cotton Rag Paper
Original: SOLD!! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind

Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions

It is not thanksgiving, and yet it is the time of year I am the most thankful for family, for friends, for health, for the safety, warmth and comfort of my home.   I will not wade into the debate about Christ in Christmas or the modern debacle of rampant consumerism.  I have instead chosen to embrace the muddle.  A blending and melding of traditions, celebrations and faith.   

I love the story of the nativity.  It is symbolic for me on so many levels, it is about family, and love, and giving to those less fortunate.  It is about being thankful for what you have and celebrating life.  While candidates for virgin birth include Osiris, Mithras, Dionysus, and Krishna, it is Mary and Joseph that have found their way into the songs I sing to Chicken Little and the traditions of our home.
©RiverWalker Arts
Watercolour on Cotton Rag Paper
Original Sold 
I also enjoy the more heathen rituals of winter solstice, of feasting with family and friends and the dragging in of a tree into ones home and festooning it with lights and ornaments, not to mention the pagan practice of adorning houses with lamps and wreathes of laurel and evergreen.  This all blends quite  nicely with the Persian winter celebration of Yelda and the shared feasting, reading  of poems out loud, telling of stories, dancing, and the serving of fruit in the form of pomegranates, nuts, and dried fruit.  The red of the fruits, symbolizing the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life,  in several cultures and for those celebrating the splendour of Mithra (a deity once popular with Roman Legionaries).  These traditions are further evocative of other ancient mid-winter customs invoking various deities  to request protection of the winter crop.

©RiverWalker Arts 2009
Pen and Ink on Paper. 
Living in  21st century North America I also get to luxuriate in the more modern fantasy about Santa  (a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, commercial idol, not to mention really great marketing by Coca-Cola.) and how this benevolent man spends his time crafting toys for all the little boys and girls the world over. Maybe I love the story of Santa so much because I wish it could be true that all over the world children could wake up to a little something special just for them,  no matter what country, no matter how poor, or how disadvantaged. 

My heart is thankful, my door is open, my glass is raised, and I toast to families everywhere, to your health and mine, to the virtues of love, peace, joy and giving.  

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

Merry Chirstmas to all.

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank.  People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!'  or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'  ~Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping:  A Survivor's Guide"

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Rediscovering the Pot Roast.

I work a 40 hour work week.  I am also a full time 24 hour a day mom to a one year old boy,  I’m a girl guide leader to 8 or so 12-14 year olds, I’m vice president of the local Community Arts Council, and somehow I manage to squish arts and crafts in there.  What I am not is Superwoman. 

I don’t exercise enough, the dog doesn't get walked nearly enough, and my new philosophy is that if I can get the closet doors shut – it’s clean enough.   I’ve hired a housekeeper to come for 3 hours every two weeks to help me cope.   However in the time between when I get home from work around 5ish and when Chicken Little gets thrown into bed at 7:30.  I somehow need to get a meal on the table.  My solution has been breaking out with freezer meals (mass produced casseroles that I can freeze and pull out at any time to pop in the oven which are largely assembled on weekends or when Chicken Little is in bed)  and Crock-pot meals assembled in much the same fashion.   It’s working.  We are fed, we even get vegetables on most nights. 

I do still like to cook,  and so it was when hunting for slow-cooker meals I dug up my mother’s Pot Roast Recipe, with the thought of turning into a crock-pot meal.   It’s an old one.  It’s a Pot Roast.. Do people even make pot roast anymore?  Some dinners get a bad rap like tuna casserole, meatloaf and pot roast  The stigma may come from bad experiences or maybe because those meals are just ugly to look at. But I’m a mother without enough time on my hands...  

When I re-read the recipe... all I could see was caramelized onions and beer... this has to be delicious... I decided I’d actually spend the time, and make it in the oven on the weekend.  I sent DH out for the meat.  I sat Chicken Little on the counter,  I sliced onions,  Chicken Little tried a few.. but spat them out, and was shortly after pacified by Christmas Oranges – followed by playing in a sink of soapy water.   I stirred, and caramelized those onions.... stir and wait.. they will eventually get brown and yummy... wait for it, just let them do their thing... wait for it.... browning up. It is sooo worth it.  I added beer, and tomatoes.. and threw the works in the oven. 

Eating dinner that night and watching chicken little down those stewed up onions one after another, I wondered why I have not done this more often – back when I had time to cook.   But even better than the flavour was the gravy – a thick stew of onions, carrots, turnip in beer and tomatoes.  Yum. 

I could not bear to throw out this deliciousness.... I put it on the stove. Added 4 cups of water, an assortment of vegetables, the left over roast cut into bits, and called it pot-roast soup.  It will serve as lunch for the coming week... and voila! Almost instant homemade soup -  this is the stuff I need to get me through the time crunch of the coming week!  Delicious. 

Pot Roast  with Beer and Caramelized Onions 

3-4 pound boneless beef pot roast
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 -3 tablespoons oil
4 med onions halved lengthwise and sliced thin
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon pepper
3 large garlic cloves chopped finely
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 bottle beer
1 can tomato sauce (213 ml) (or some puréed tomatoes when you realize you have no tomato sauce)
1 ½ pound carrots
1 small rutabaga

On a large plate, roll meat in  flour to coat, shaking off excess…reserve excess flour.
In a large Dutch oven heat  half the oil over medium - high heat.  Brown meat on all sides about 8 minutes.  Transfer meat to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium  Add remaining oil to pot.  Add onions, brown sugar, bay leaves, salt  cinnamon, ginger and pepper.  Cook 12- 15 minutes or until onions are tender and  golden, stirring often.

Add reserved flour and garlic.  Cook  30 seconds, stirring.  Add vinegar, cook until evaporated.  Pour in beer and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil and  cook  1 minute or until thickened, stirring.  Return meat  and accumulated juices  to pot. 

Cover and stick in oven at 325 for two hours, turning meat occasionally.

Meanwhile, peel carrots and rutabaga  cut into 2 x ½ inch strips.  Add to meat and cover and simmer   for another 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove roast from pot, spoon sauce over meat and serve remaining sauce separately. 

After dinner.... make  Left-over Soup– Chop up remaining roast into bite sized bits, return to pot, with 4 cups of water, and a host of vegetables – green beans, corn, potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms, kohlrabi or whatever you can find in the bottom of your fridge. 
Bring to boil. 
Voila!   Lunches for the whole family for the week. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart.

December is really a special month.  It is a time of year to quit complaining that it is cold outside,  to take a deep breath and settle down a little more into the inner warmth.  Thus, when the snow began swirling wet and heavy outside my window on December 1st, and the fury of the wind set the vents to rattling, and the hot watertank exploded …  (oh wait… the hot water tank disaster had nothing to do with it…. )   I began to feel the urge to stare in quiet contemplation at small white twinkle lights,  to watch the flicker of a candle reflected in a glass of red wine… er.. I mean.. mulled apple juice.   To cozy up beneath thick warm blankets amid the glow and sparkle of Christmas décor. 

When Snow came a Falling
by RiverWalker Arts. 

And so it was that I set out to create the space that I wanted to enjoy.   Having never really done much more than string a few lights, pop up a tree I had a few things to acquire.  This town will provide if you look hard enough and are willing to improvise.  Home after raiding every store in town, I walked upstairs with my bag filled with sparkling miscellany and DH just laughed at me.   Reminding me how silly all this temporary décor really is and how taking it all down in a month will be a chore, and that we will have to then store it all somewhere for the next 11 months…. .  I didn’t care, and told him as much. 

Across the mantle I laid dark green garlands with shiny baubles and glittering red ribbons, I strung lights around the windows, and pulled out the beautifully crafted stockings my grandmother had quilted for us.   I tucked more garland and plaid ribbon around my chandelier, tied bows on the backs of my dinning room chairs.   DH indulged me and set up our lovely fake tree.  (I will not wade into the fake vs. real tree discussion – suffice to say I love them both,  but have chosen for the mean time to have a fake tree if for no other reason than it can stand for longer indoors without going brown and dropping all it’s needles) 

Photo ©RiverWalker Arts 2012
When DH plugged in the tree and in the dimness of the living room it exploded into light, Chicken Little who had been busy putting a shiny purple bauble first on and then taking it off the tree sat back on his haunches and exclaimed in his little one year old voice “ woooooaaahhhhh.”  He then proceeded to spend the next 30 or so minutes talking to the tree in his loudest gibberish.   I wish I had captured this on camera – alas it was not to be and I shall have to suffice with the memory.

Later that night, Chicken Little tucked into bed, DH admitted the place looked festive and lovely, and that we should have friends over to play games and enjoy food together as a way of embracing the festive nature of this special season.  

Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for - I don't know what exactly, but it's something that you don't mind so much not having at other times.  ~Kate L. Bosher

Monday, November 19, 2012

a little more on laundry... or maybe insanity

It is late out and I’m doing diaper laundry..which has got me to thinking... that most of the time you lose things in the washing machine...  like socks.... I even blogged about sock physics once (Link) the jist of which is my theory that - it has something to do with the speed at which the socks move and centripetal motion created within the washing process wherein the socks are directed orthogonal to the velocity of the spin cycle, toward the instantaneous center of curvature of the dryer drum... resulting in the abrupt disappearance of socks into another dimension.

But lately I’m noticing that there are other things that happen in the wash.... sometimes you shred things, and sometimes that Kleenex in your pocket turns into a nasty pilly mess that takes months to fully get out of the hoodie pocket...

I HATE that feeling of shredded washing machine Kleenex... and sometimes the pocket is forever ruined...

but sometimes you are lucky.. and the wash also causes things to miraculously appear....(these items I assume come from another dimension - a place where they have a surplus of single socks tumbling out of their dryers....)  these things that appear in my wash include things  like screws, earplugs, or quarters...and sometimes dollar bills.. if you are really lucky... lost hair clips and buttons miraculously appear. 

 Other times you are not so lucky.. and chap stick appears... or a little red craft feather comes out with the whites....

Or maybe it’s a sign of approaching insanity that I’m thinking and worrying about these things... 

The bustle of a craft fair

A celebration of crafts, a community social event, an opportunity to shop local and support local artisans, a Herculean effort to organize and a good time had by all.  The 37th, annual Craft Fair was a success – not just from my personal point of view.

I rose in the darkness, the rain hammering against the windows like gunfire.  As I sat up in bed trying not to wake the sleeping baby next to me.  The beloved dog leapt up with an excited grunt and began wagging her thick ropy tail madly.  Thwacking me with each wiggle of her back end, I listened… the wind howled in the trees outside my window, leaves, sticks and bits of fall debris were picked up and thrown against the house.   The sound of the wind in the wires creating a mournful howl in the darkness.  And amid the cacophony  - my child snoring peacefully bottom up in the air, head buried in a pillow making a himself a little lump curled up next to his snoring father. 

Sliding into my slippers and staring out at the downpour and the blustery remnants of a storm, I dragged myself out of bed, the dog happily bounding along behind, stuffed toy in her mouth, but once fed -  she returned to bed for an after breakfast nap.

With the car already packed, I managed to pull on a pair of jeans and put my hair in a ponytail before bidding good bye to the snoring mass of bodies still abed. 

The bustle of a craft fair before opening is exhilarating… people busy setting up, carting goods to and fro, arguments breaking out about who is encroaching on whom and who is blocking the flow of traffic, socializing among crafters and a steady stream of wet and muddied footprints in and out the door. 

Selling predominantly paper products  is always a challenge  in wet weather, and I never arrive early enough to score a spot right at the door.  So with Rubbermaid tubs and bits of plastic sheeting I managed to pile in, set up (with minimal grumbling about my neighbour encroaching into my space)  and then we were off.  For 8 hours I watched the crowds, talked with folks, socialized and sold mostly little packets of spices with their attached recipes and cooking instructions. 

By 5pm I was exhausted, and glad that I don’t work in the retail business. Never the less I had a great day and I’m glad I was there to take it all in.   Special thanks to Annie for the Herculean effort of organizing and to all  to all who came out to support our vendors.  This could not be possible with out you. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Time Management

©RiverWalker Arts 

So what you ask is on the easel today?  Several things as it turns out.  Including the next instalment of Wynken, Blynken and Nod – I’m really so excited about it.  So much so that I haven’t painted this year Christmas Card yet… but I’ve prioritized and I hope to get some inspiration soon for that annual event. Of course in the mean time, I’ve the day to day grind of the working stiff to plough through,  baby friendly Christmas Tree ornaments to make, girl guides to organize (they are asking for a slumber party),  a dog to walk, a baby to snuggle, a craft fair to survive… the list is really endless

It just seems that there are too many things to paint, and not enough time.  Too many quilts to make, but not enough time.  Too many good books to read, and not enough time.  Too many games of patty cake to play, and not enough time. Too many projects, but so very little time.. cool projects – like making cheese! Oh yes.. that is right… home made cheese… it took me a few tries to get a solid lump of cheese and not just a thick cheesy spread.  But now I can pull a new party trick…. Show up with a gallon of milk  - and 30 minutes later emerge from the kitchen with fresh hot cheese!

©RiverWalker Arts 
In terms of not enough time… weekdays have gone from busy to chaotic.  I’m not sure how I used to do it.  Between the time I leave work and the time my baby is tucked into bed, and I’ve cleaned up the diaper pail, packed his snacks for the next day, along with changes of clothing, and other necessary items, etc.  Preparing, eating and cleaning up after dinner has become more of a necessity rather than an enjoyable experience.  I love to cook, but not in the desperately rushed fashion that has become my evenings.  To combat this issue… I’ve pulled out my Crock-Pot!  So far I’ve only found 3 recipes I like in it.  What’s worse is that one of them involves heavy cream (so isn’t something I really want to be making on a weekly basis unless I want to balloon to 400 pounds)  !!  so I’ve got 2 recipes to work with…. So I send out a plea to you…

©RiverWalker Arts 
My time management depends on this – what are your favourite crock-pot recipes / meals.   Most everything I’ve tried have been mushy masses of uniformly flavoured slop…. But I’m sure I can get beyond this with some choice recipes from others!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012


So I don’t exactly have a fabric line – but I’ve taken my paintings, I’ve done my best using the incredibly complicated photoshop to create a repeat pattern without any hard lines.  I’ve tweaked, and played and soon I hope I’ll have 6 prints available for sale at

What? You want a look at them…  ok.  Here is the link.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Step forth into the darkness

Step forth into the darkness – of fall and of winter.  The Darkness has returned.  It does every year, but every year I have to go through a period of adjustments as I learn to start the day without light.  Perhaps it is a figment of my imagination, but I resist waking in the darkness, and crave the comforts of my little night time nest for longer during the winter.  Whatever it is, my habit of going to bed has little changed, but I find it harder and harder to wake in the darkness.  The artificial incandescent lights seem harsh and I squint as I flick the switch and begin the day.   Sometimes I just go about my early morning routine in the darkness,  only to later find out that I have toothpaste dibbled on the front of my shirt….

The other thing that comes with winter is rain, and mud and all out wetness.  My exuberant black lab might be three now and in theory an adult dog,  she is however often cooped up in the laundry room when we are at work, and has excess energy to burn.  Once I would let her run down by the waterfront, next to the train tracks, frolicking in the ocean, and playing in the mud and ice covered potholes along the  frontage road.   The rail company has since shut down access to the area and no longer can we wander next to the sea. The alternative for letting her run free is a home made dog park of sorts,  an old but small baseball field full of sedge grass, where the locals have patched the holes in the fence and made it their own. 

Over Sized Rodent....  ©RiverWalker Arts
Chicken Little was asleep by 7pm and I took the 75 pounds of oversized black rodent to the “dog park”  and let her loose….   I waded it after her…. Yes waded.  Into a mucky swamp.  2, 3, 4 inches of water covered thick oozing mud.  My boots squelched as I gingerly made my way into the yard, hoping I didn’t step in a hole and break my ankle.   We played fetch in the dog park come pond, in the dark.  It is however hard to find a half submerged mud soaked tennis ball in the dark, even with my head lamp on.   And although I had to give my dog a full bath when we arrived home I did manage to ensure she’d had a chance to run, and burn off some of that excess energy. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One of those perfect autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.

The sun has lingered late into the fall.  Don’t get me wrong we have had some torrential rain too,  but we have also revelled in blue sky in the afternoons once the fog has dissipated.  

Thick beads of frozen dew melt and give way to glistening droplets in the mid-day light.  People are out walking, playing in the parks and taking in the last of the warmth, the last of the light, and the vestiges of dryness before they hunker down for a season of darkness, dampness and cold.  

DH doing what he loves best 
© Arianne Loranger-Saindon 
We rarely have a fall that makes one feel like kicking leaves, and putting out the cornucopia of decorative gourds brilliantly coloured with yellow, oranges and red. While typically my I would never put out a wreath – I get enough exercise peeling my door mat off the side of the house and  chasing my garbage can as it rolls down the street in the howling winds and the down pouring rain, not to mention climbing trees looking for the garbage can lid.  So with the novelty of a “real” fall I’ve been inspired to crafting.  I’ve been making little pumpkins out of felting wool.  They are cute, fun and easy. 
Check it out!

My Little Felted Pumpkin.

Aside from evening crafting projects the family also managed to get out to the “bar.”  A stretch of gravel where the fishermen go to catch salmon making their way upriver.  A beautiful spot where you can light a fire, roast a hot-dog or a marshmallow,  and enjoy the day.  I invited everyone.  In the end there were 6 kids, 3 dogs, 2 kites and several dozen hot-dogs.  The sun shone, the smiles came out and all slept well that night. 
taking full advantage of the October sun
© Arianne Loranger-Saindon 

There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind. ~Annie Dillard

Thursday, October 4, 2012

let's add crafting...

So that my friends marks the end of September.  Chicken Little has survived his first 4 weeks of Day Care, and seems to have adjusted well enough.  After much stress and concern on my part, I’ve found a place for Chicken Little that I’m very happy with.  A lovely lady who has her own two children, and has chosen to take on 2 additional children.  All in all she finds her days filled with 4 small children 3 and under…  she showers them with love and Chicken Little has even come home with his very first art project.

My art projects have been stymied by the presence of a uniformly beige cubicle wherein I spend some 40 odd hours a week toiling away with visions of shrimp and candle fish floating in my head.  I have however recently finished the 3rd painting towards my Dutch Lullaby project.   All in all I hope to complete 15-20 paintings to complete a my children’s book project.

Here is a sneak peek at a recent image for this book:

I’m also in full swing, making preparations for the local craft fair which takes place in mid-November.  (You will stop by won’t you?)  I’m looking forward to it, as I will be showcasing some new stuff… 

But as if I were not busy enough I have decided to take on a NEW craft.  Felting.  I’ve ordered some supplies, and raided the local thrift shop.  I’m going to start with Dryer Balls.  You read that right… felted wool dryer balls… the purpose of which is to… Shorten drying time… Reduce static…, Soften and fluff your laundry gently, Use in place of dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener and besides if they are ugly  - who cares because they will be living in the dryer.  Of course if I manage to master the basics of dryer balls I do seriously want to try to make Christmas ornaments… including pumpkins, strawberries, and other mostly round things. While at the same time trying to keep my house from smelling like a wet sheep.
I can not ever imagine being bored.  I can not ever imagine having enough time to do all the things I want to do.

Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true.  ~william Inge

Monday, September 17, 2012

Getter Done...

It is, autumn. The leaves are turning colors — in places far from here.  In this place it is still wet and green due to a lack of deciduous trees, and in particular deciduous hardwoods like the sugar maple. The insects are going off to wherever it is they go all winter — I really don't care where they go, but if I could prevent them from coming back to terrorize my campground in summer I’d spend more time on the issue.  There are limits to what we can hope to know about the cosmos.

Photo by RiverWalker Arts
With the onset of this most delightful of seasons I’ve geared up and been remarkably productive...  (until I got hit with a nasty flu – but I’m drinking my tea and staying home in hopes of getting enough rest to resume my usual busyness)  Fall is when all the volunteer work I’ve ignored all summer suddenly comes and knocks on the door... this year is no different.

 I got unceremoniously roped into Girl Guides again.   So every Thursday I get to try to impart all manner of skills and competence to a group of 12-14 year olds girls who are more interested in giggling and texting on their cell phones than learning how to start fires, splice rope or knit socks.  Oh I also get to do enough paperwork to satisfy the organization’s  insurance company... there is mountains of the stuff.

Creative Jam! 
But on the more fun front, as Vice-Pres of the local Arts Council, I’m working on this year’s Creative Jam.  While not until February, there is a lot of organizing to do.  What is the Creative Jam??  Well.... CREATIVE JAM is a weekend of interdisciplinary creative workshops with participants jamming on a common theme. From the realms of photography, fabric, visual art and creative writing, four facilitators guide individuals and groups through a process of learning through active creativity.   Basically all the artsy people can get together and be creative!

I was so excited to contact Leslie Redhead and get a verbal commitment from her for the visual side of things. (if you are interested her blog is here:  I think she will be great for our little venue!   Now I can finish my applications for community support and donations.   I feel so on top of it!

I’ve also signed up for this year’s November Craft Fair, and managed to get all my orders in for matting materials, cards, prints etc.  Wow.. how do I manage to get all this done?

Ok – now that I’ve finished patting my own back... I’ll get back to drinking my tea and getting some sleep.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Establishing goals is all right if you don't let them deprive you of interesting detours.

Yes. The book. The sketches and the good intentions.  Really I did start, I have a half finished watercolour with a boat and a moon and a bunch of swirling glittery stars.  “They sailed on a river of crystal light and into a sea of dew” .  I got side tracked. 

I think it’s only temporary.  I went camping. Oh and I painted a few miniatures....
Spot Prawn
©RiverWalker Arts

©RiverWalker Arts

©RiverWalker Arts

And now.. well I’m going through some challenges... like putting Chicken Little into daycare, and starting a new job.  It is pretty stressful stuff.. but I’m still working on it.  Oh and I started another sewing project... currently in UFO status.

But if you are in town... I did manage to get the handbill put together for this season of “Thursday Night at the Movies” ...

Come out and joint us... 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Art is the stored honey of the human soul

In the Blink of an eye a month a year has flown by.  The short weeks of the past month have been spent visiting family, camping and enjoying life.  They have also stirred my creative juices and I’m contemplating things I wish I started a year ago... when I began my year’s hiatus from the 8-5 daily grind of the working stiff, and began that most marvellous journey into motherhood.

Chicken Little will be a year old too soon, and I’ll resume my role in the workforce.  Chicken Little will be taken care of at daycare and the precious few waking hours a day I will have with him will be cherished - being that much more special.  What will likely take a backseat is all the fun creative stuff I’ve been able to do this year...  sadly I’m not ready to be done with fun stuff.  

lovely place to loaf about
©RiverWalker Arts
Maybe it was all the loafing about in a campsite away from the constant reminders of house work needing to be done and guilt about not walking the dog more frequently .... or maybe it was one thing leading to another... but after making my first foray into the fun world of fabric and creating a series of simple rag quilts and accepting that I’m really an impatient seamstress and what I really like is all the wonderful fabric that is out there. (Not that being incapable of sewing a straight line is going to stop me from my dabbling in quilting ).  In fact I knew if I started buying fabric it would become a problem... I deliberately avoided getting into fabric arts when my crystal ball while usually foggy and useless for divining the future showed a huge collection of fat-quarters in store for me, a fortune in fabric just for the beauty of it all. Nowhere to store it, and not enough time to work through it all.

One day after realizing that the inevitable fabric collecting had begun.  I found myself lounging on the sofa at my friend’s place, the lovely owner of  fishskin fabrics (, drinking the splendid coffee she had made me, and discussing how there was more fabulous fabric to be had than one could ever hope to have time to sew with it, much like there are more books I want to read than there is time in my life to read them.  “and wouldn’t it be such fun to design those fabrics” I mentioned. This being as opposed to writing a book, something for which I have no desire - especially given the fact I can’t even figure out how to write a short little story to make into a children’s book. 

But fabric design... well this apparently isn’t so difficult... and so she led me to a place called SpoonFlower.  Oh the wonderful sounds Mr. Brown can do.... er ...  I mean the wonderful places the web can take you....   A website that makes it possible for individuals to design, print and sell their own fabric designs. 

©RiverWalker Arts
A day later... curtsey of some detailed ink drawings I did 10 years ago,  voilà. My first fabric design:

The first of what I hope to be many. I envision a whole line of RiverWalker fabrics!!!

Oh and that children’s book I can’t figure out how to write  I did come to the conclusion that, since I sing the Dutch Lullaby “Wynken, Blyken and Nod by Eugene Field (he was an American so it beats me why it’s known as a Dutch Lullaby - but I digress) to Chicken Little at least once every night - it would be a good practice run for me.  I've no idea the copyright on the poem, but I’d like to produce a single copy for me and my Chicken Little.   Maybe I won’t go down in history as a great illustrator but I might just manage to realize my dream and illustrate a children’s story – even if it’s just for use in this house.

"Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe —"
Here are a couple sketches I’ve done towards that particular project.....  the final project will be in watercolours.

"The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea —
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish —
Never afeard are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod."

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.  ~Stella Adler

Friday, July 20, 2012

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.


My house smells like a spice factory.  Or what I romantically imagine the Spanish galleons of old must have smelled like, heavily laden with riches.  Ponderous and wallowing things filled with cargoes  of spices, timbers, silks and other luxuries from the orient.  Enough to make you sneeze. 

Before I left adventuring in the land beyond laundry, I concocted a set of spice packets which I delivered for sale at the Ice House Gallery where I sell my art work.   Little envelopes designed  as glorified postcards, a place for a message, a stamp and an address, covered in my art work, and containing spices and associated recipes for Rockfish Chowder, Savoury Salmon Spice Rub, Halibut Chermoula and Kickin’ Crab Cakes.  A fun little addition to my more staid and traditional series of prints and cards. 

When I got home from camping... there were no less than four messages on my machine...
1.  I’m just not sure about these spices you’ve brought in.... please call me.
2.      I’m not sure we can accept these packets – they aren’t part of your original application describing the products you planned to sell
3.       I’m not sure we can sell these – the spices included are not grown locally and as you know we only sell locally made items and art work.
4.      Could you please bring some more spice packets down  as we have sold out of all of them.
Change is such a difficult thing.

So I spent an entire day mixing spices and loading envelopes to satisfy the demand of a new product in a small town.  

It was, in the end, no hardship to spend the day indoors, as I found much to my chagrin, the temperatures had plummeted, and I was dressed (in mid-july may I remind you!) in woollen slippers, long pants, long sleeves and a few extra layers looking out at the downpour wondering why I continue to live in this cold and dismal climate. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Camping: The art of getting closer to nature while getting farther away from the nearest cold beverage, hot shower and flush toilet.

Too many projects, not nearly enough time. 

©RiverWalker Arts
But the best time of all is when you go away and there are no distractions.  No dishes lurking in the sink, no laundry slowing getting  sour and beckoning from the basement, no looking through windows covered in dog slobber and thinking how much better the view might be if only I spent some time washing the windows,  which then leads to cleaning the mould out of the aluminum tracks, which reminds me that the floor need a good clean to remove dog prints, slobber, dog hair, dust, baby drool and other miscellany... where upon I open the closet for the appropriate cleaning apparatus and realize that although I can get my closet doors closed (barely) they really need a thorough cleaning , sorting, organizing,  purging and general dung-out.... and while we are talking about closets – the linen cupboard, the fridge, the pantry and pretty much all storage locations in the house need a full on cleaning if I ever hope to find anything ever again..... did I mention my plant needs watering?  And there is a pink ring around the bathtub.  And the dog needs walking.  And the garbage needs to be taken out.  And the hedge needs trimming......  *sigh*.
©RiverWalker Arts

While some folks eschew camping as some form of sadistic experiment in biting insects and poor hygiene ...  (one friend told me “ why would I go live in a tent for fun? ...  I work hard to earn enough money so I don’t have to huddle around a fire in a barrel, and hunker down in the down pouring rain under the dubious shelter of  a tent” )   - I, personally love the way that all the jobs evaporate. I realize that out in the campsite, I have absolutely nothing better to do that nap on a blanket on the grass with my Chicken Little.  Nothing more pressing to do than roast a hot-dog slowly on a collection of warm coals in the fire pit.  Nothing more important than to throw the stick for the dog to chase endlessly. 
©RiverWalker Arts

It is a slice of freedom, a way to clear away the clutter and put some perspective on what really is and is not important. 

©RiverWalker Arts
Yes,  there were bugs, hundreds of thousands, Billions upon Billions of them, and yes I accumulated a lot of black gunk under my fingernails, and my feet looked pretty black on the bottom by the end of the day,  and yes in fact there was a flood in the camper, and yes in fact there were some problems with refrigeration, and not everything went as smoothly as one might hope....   but I rested.  And I came home inspired.  Inspired to write, to paint, to sew and to appreciate the little things....

Standby – brilliant works of art, and witty words will be forthcoming.. 


If I find time.

There are, after all, nearly four hundred and fifty six loads of laundry to do now that we are home, Oh and the garden needs weeding, and the bathroom needs scrubbing.... and....  and..

You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping.  ~Rudyard Kipling