Sunday, January 31, 2010

the good china

growing up in post-war wasp toronto suburbia, most homes had a set of "good" china and the pattern of choice was "blue willow" - a "chinese" design manufactured in britain. the good china (combined with the "good" silver - usually a wedding gift kept in a wooden red velvet lined box) would be brought out in our home at christmas and maybe thanksgiving. in some homes (like that of my church-going ex-inlaws) it was also used for sunday dinner. the good china didn't last in our home. my mother tired of things quickly. if she felt it was time for new dishes, she would allow us to smash the old ones into boxes to put out in the garbage and make room for the new set. but in my mind, nothing ever replaced the blue willow. as a child i would get lost in the imagery.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

grey day

woke up to a chilly grey day. a little snow fell overnight and it will stay. aside from a quick dog-walk this morning - to shoppers to mail off an order and pick up the saturday globe and mail, and to the cafe for my weekly saturday morning treat - soy chai latte, i'll be staying in...

Friday, January 29, 2010

grownup movie star

if you live in the toronto area, you'll be able to see grownup movie star. it opens at the scotiabank theatre today. it's written and directed by adriana maggs. adriana is the daughter of my friend catherine. catherine and her family moved to newfoundland when we did in the '70's. we raised our families together. our children and now our grandchildren and friends. anyone who knew adriana at the age of 3 (as i did) knew that this is what she would do. make an incredible movie. have that movie accepted at sundance. have breakfast with robert redford last weekend.
"grownup movie star" comes to st. john's feb. 19th. if it doesn't come to corner brook, we'll have to organize a private viewing. way to go adrianna!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

a beautiful day

yesterday was warm and sunny. i spent the day dyeing my new fleece. the doors and windows in the house open. the fleece drying outside. the sunlight even seemed to fill the shadows with colour.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

so soft

yesterday was a soft day. the cold weather finally shifted to warm wind and rain (taking away most of the little snow we had). and my big fleece order finally arrived. 2 large boxes or merino and shetland and soysilk and bamboo and milk fibre and ramie. i'll be dyeing up combinations of wool and plant fibre for my "spring collection". here are samples of the first 4 colours i dyed yesterday and the first yarn i spun "nectar". today will be great for dyeing because it's again mild and for now the sun is shining so i can do some drying out of doors.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


one of my goals for this month was to turn my attention back to my body (something that's easy to ignore when you're working flat out heading towards a craft show.) so it's been a month of medical tests - mammogram and pap and bloodwork and teeth and eyes... and this morning i have my last - a bone density scan. and then in a couple of weeks i go back to the doctor for all the results.
so this month i've spent alot of time in waiting rooms. i'm still reading dicken's little dorrit (an 800 page book!) so that's kept me occupied. but last monday, after fasting for 16 hours, i waited 3 hours for bloodwork (that includes the extra hour it took me to walk to the hospital and discover that the blood clinic was now in the centre of town). and as i sat in the waiting room with my number and listened to the complaints about the long wait, about the flaws in the system etc., i thought about haiti. about how all they can do now is wait. wait for medical attention (if and when it comes), wait for food and water and housing, wait for an uncertain future. and it made my fasting induced headache (which happens if i don't get coffee into me first thing in the morning) seem pretty insignificant.

Monday, January 25, 2010

fresh flowers

at this time of year, while nature sleeps, i love having fresh flowers in the house. this past weekend, the first of the spring flowers - daffodils, crocus and tulips showed up in the local grocery store. this will keep me going for the next few months...

Sunday, January 24, 2010


i'm not teaching this winter so my days are free to devote to dyeing and spinning and knitting. i'm thoroughly enjoying this freedom.
i'm dyeing up bright and cheerful colours. i'm mixing in plant fibres like bamboo and soysilk and milk fibre and spinning thinner than usual to make yarns that will be more spring-like to knit and wear. "lollipop" will be going into my etsy shop today.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

the coldest day so far

it's the coldest day so far. some of us don't even want to go out to pee...
we're feeding the crows. fortunately the little junkos and chickadees come to the feeder in the morning and the crows don't show up until late afternoon so they're all taken care of.

Friday, January 22, 2010

21 days in

3 weeks ago i started the 21 day vegan kickstart diet. mostly i stuck to it. no cheese (which for me was the hardest thing to give up). no eggs (which meant no sweet baked good too). i still have a drop of milk in my coffee. and i still eat yoghurt - haven't found a soya yoghurt here that i like.
i have to decide how strict i'm going to be from now on. newfoundland, outside of st. john's, is a hard place to be vegan. it's definitely a fish and meat based diet. the grocery stores carry some vegan alternatives now (when i moved here over 30 years ago (as a vegetarian) it was very difficult to eat well). most restaurants have no vegetarian options on the menu so if i become vegan now it will be harder to go out to eat.
aside from a vegan diet being the healthiest for me, i'm finding it harder to turn a blind eye to the treatment of most kept animals. and what it does to the planet. and the hypocrisy of my spinning with animal fibres... so this is my dilemma.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

light, colour

yesterday the skies cleared and the sun shone brightly all day. very cold in the morning but warmed up in the afternoon to give us a most perfect winter's day. a long walk in the afternoon.
i'm waiting for a big shipment of fleece. yesterday i dyed up what i had left of the natural merino and shetland. my home was filled with light and colour.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

heart like a wheel

on monday kate mcgarrigle died of cancer at the age of 63.
in 1975 i moved to a small (pop. 2000) newfoundland community. i was a young wife. a young mother. i had no close friends or family there. every day my young husband would head into town and i would be alone with my children. we brought with us from toronto a large record collection. mostly classical music. but there were a few contemporary records too. lightfoot. dylan. cohen. and the mcgarrigle sisters. these were my friends. i'd put them on and do housework to them. i would dance my babies on my hip to them. they would remind me of who i was. i feel like i've lost an old friend.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


the weekend brought snow. and this week is very very cold. short walks with abigail. quick dashes to the compost bin and back, to feel the warmth of the house. during the day i look out at black and white. but yesterday the sun shone and the shadows in late afternoon were long and crisp. and last night the sliver moon seemed to illuminate the sky . the starry sky echoed the sparkling snow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

the heart-ache

my grand daughter lucy is 4 1/2. just before christmas she started getting a weekly allowance. one dollar a week or two dollars if she has been "helpful". on friday she went to the store and bought a baby duck webkin. her first purchase with her own money. i talked to her on saturday and she described "puddley" to me. soft and white with a yellow beak and a shiny blue ribbon. he's a baby so has to sleep with her in bed under her yellow blanket. as i sat and listened to her on the phone i was looking at the front cover photo of the globe and mail. the ghostly image of a 5 year old boy pulled alive from the rubble of haiti. his family all still buried.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

a quiet winter's afternoon

winter hit western newfoundland hard this weekend. cold. lots of snow. we burrowed in. spinning and knitting, watching hbo. reading the saturday globe and mail. a long nap yesterday afternoon. very quiet. very peaceful. the world storming outside...

Saturday, January 16, 2010


our first cat "squid" used to ride in the jeep with us. he was comfortable and curious when we were driving slowly around town but un-easy if we went fast on the bigger roads. we realized that if the jeep went faster than he could run, he got nervous.
i'm like squid. i don't like speed. on the highway. on the snowmobile trails. in a boat. at an amusement ground the only ride i ever consider going on is the merry-go-round. the slow rotation. the steady and rhythmic up and down. that's my idea of fun...

Friday, January 15, 2010

the juggler

the only full-time permanent job i ever had was as a junior high (grade 7-9) art teacher in the early 1980's. i lasted 1 year (disciplining excitable and hormonal pre-teens was not my strength). since then my work career has been irregular. university art teaching. barrista. animal shelter co-ordinator. in the past 10 years i've mainly been supporting myself on my art and craft. so i should be used to juggling my finances. but it doesn't seem to get easier. money gets spent before it's earned. when it's earned it's used to pay off the debts. there's never the comfort of getting ahead or feeling on top. the luxury of a pay-check. i don't regret the choices i've made - i love how i get to spend my days. it's just knowing that the financial part of it will never get easier...

Thursday, January 14, 2010


i love the colours of beach or seaglass. their soft opacity. the roughness. our cabin is on the beach so we have an never-ending source to appreciate.
this week i dyed and spun up fibres in seaglass colours. a large skein that's now on reserve in my etsy shop. a pair of fingerless gloves and yesterday got a repeat order from a toronto customer wanting a shawl with my seaglass yarn as the base. and she wants beads added - a first for me...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


we have snow now and the temperatures are cold. for days our backyard has been filled with crows. circling. pitching on the power lines. on trees and bushes. at the bird feeders. on the road in front of the house. over a hundred at a time. they're hungry and looking for food. berries that have been left behind. salt on the road. it feels ominous and sad.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

old friends and new snow

over thirty years ago, when the university first opened up in corner brook newfoundland, marilee and catherine and i moved here with our young english professor husbands. we raised our children together. we laughed and drank and partied and cried together. the husbands are gone. the children and now grandchildren are all friends. i see both marilee and catherine often but it is only a few times a year that we all 3 manage to get together. yesterday morning- the first snow fall of the new year - we took our little dogs for a long walk around the pond. old and new.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

a light dusting of snow

i've lived in newfoundland for over 30 years and i don't remember another january without snow. ususually by now we are trudging thigh-deep in snow to get to the compost bins. and the snow hills and trails would have been open for weeks for skiing and snow-mobiling.
yesterday we woke to a light dusting of snow. it was almost like winter trying to start all over again. i was out taking photos. the snow seemed to highlight the subtle colours that were still left in the landscape from the fall.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

i see

2 years ago i was diagnosed with early onset macular degeneration. my mother was blind when she died so this news was devastating. i felt all i could do was try to slow down the progress - eat tonnes of greens, take lutein vitamins and wear sunglasses whenever i was in bright light.
yesterday i went for a check-up. this time to a new doctor. and there is no sign of the disease. either i had a misdiagnoses the first time or what i was doing reversed it. either way, i'm in heaven. i'll continue the regime (because, having this disease in my family makes me at higher risk.) and now my future is "looking" brighter...

Friday, January 8, 2010

new mexico meet new foundland

i'm going to be attending the spring toronto one of a kind show (march 31st to april 4th). so this winter i'm spinning and knitting spring. spinning lighter plant fibres like bamboo and soysilk. and knitting shawl/scarves with less wool content. the shawl/scarves are a combination of my handspun with other commercial novelty yarns. i've been buying yarn from monte who lives in new mexico and owned taos sunflower yarns with martie in taos until last year when they closed up shop and opened up on etsy. monte knows exactly what i want - i just let her know how much i want to spend and she sends up a surprise package. this one arrived in the mail yesterday. and my house is now full of the light and colour of a new mexico desert. look out toronto!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

handspun revolution

i've been spinning for 2 years now. lexi boeger of pluckyfluff has been one of my biggest influences on this journey. she is an artist who spins and she gives me "permission" to take my spinning in any direction i want. i read her blog regularly. so when i saw her latest venture (creating the biggest skein of yarn ever) i knew i wanted to be involved. yesterday i spun up "limelight" to send off to norway and another similar skein to put up in my shop. if you want to join in - the deadline isn't till march - check out her blog for all the details.