Friday, July 31, 2009

Tales from my Garden

This heat wave is making some plants really happy and some not so much. My tomatoes are verging on giving up I think. Which makes me sad but the intense heat is pushing the pot the plant is in to the max and even with watering it every day and giving it the seaweed fertilizer once a week, it may not hang on. There should be some sign of fruit and at this point there isn't. So I think I may have to go back to the drawing board next year. Only time will tell.

My Maya flowers Rudbeckia hirta are loving the heat. They are happy, yellow and very showy. They are my favorite purchase for the year. Next year if we are still in this house I'll plant more of them in the front since they seem to like it there so much.

Here is my Platycondon or Balloon flower. The blooms are delicate and colourful.

I'm happy that I tried the tomatoes and we'll see how the green peppers turn out. The plant is growing lots and I planted it late so I don't expect peppers for another month. I seem to be more successful with flowers so far and my herbs are doing well. One thing I learned from growing up on a farm though is that you can rarely predict how plants will turn out. Much of it is chance, experience and weather conditions blending for a harmonious growing season.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Art of the Month: July

Forgive me for the brief nature of this post but we are sweltering here and our upstairs spare room (where the computer is) is the hottest place to be in the house at the moment. I have chosen to feature two different bags this month. One is a tarot card bag that I made many moons ago before I had my own sewing machine. I only own one deck of cards: The Sacred Circle Tarot and I don't use tarot very much, usually once a year for my birthday read. But my cards still need a nice place to live and so I made this bag which has lots of symbols that are meaningful to me.
One side has male and female symbols embroidered on fabric that was a gift to me from a friend who did some resistance work with Starhawk using it in ritual, at the WTO protest in 2000. The verses written out are from Carol Christ's book Diving Deep and Surfacing where she lists nine touchstones that I still find beautiful and poignant to my life.

*Nurture Life*
*Walk in love and beauty*
*Trust the knowledge that comes through the body*
*Speak the truth about conflict, pain and suffering*
*Take only what you need*
*Think about the consequences of your actions for seven generations*
*Approach the taking of life with great restraint*
*Practice great generosity*
*Repair the web*

The second side has the Scorpio symbol, a pentacle and a wolf. I have felt a deep connection with wolves for many years.
The second bag is one that Heidi made. She made one for each of us to celebrate Imbolc. She made them with the idea of them being amulet bags. It is not a small pouch but rather an elaborate bag (she did a great job of making them). I am saving this bag for a special use that is yet to be determined. But at Beltaine she used hers to bring her stones and special objects for the altar. So it is a type of amulet bag with many potential uses. Here are a couple of write-ups 1, 2, about amulet bags.
And in ritual we embroidered on our bags to add to their magical potency. I chose purple and blue as my colours.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One for the Boys

*Image found here*

Last night I listened Druidcast's latest offering, episode 28. If you have never listened to this podcast please do. It is so inspirational and is of such a high quality. The host of Druidcast is Damh the Bard who is not only an accomplished singer/songwriter but a wonderful personality to listen to. He was kind enough to share his story called: The Horned God - An Unofficial Biography and it knocked my socks off. You can find the print version here or the audio here (scroll down to episode 28) It felt so appropriate to this time of year for me as well since Lughnasad is one of two Sabbats that I associate more with the God than the Goddess (the other being Yule). The story is legend, mixed with personal imagery and expresses a beautiful essence of manhood.
Hearing that essence in Damh's voice was moving beyond words. I see the essence of masculinity in my husband as he strives to provide for us and be authentically himself. I see it in the youth and rapid learning of my 19 month old son. I watched it for years in the physically demanding job that my father worked as a farmer, moving with the seasons and using his body to protect the animals and plant. I see it in the nurturing that emanates from my husband and our guy friends towards the gaggle of babies that encircle us. I am grateful to be surrounded by strong, gentle and silly men (as I consider being silly an important character trait).
When I contemplate the raising of the boy children in our circle I feel a massive sense of responsibility. Being a man in this day and age is not as cut and dry as it appeared to be years ago. Men receive as many mixed messages through media and society as women do. To raise an accomplished, whole and loving man is my mission. Luckily I have numerous examples around me.
Please have a listen or read The Horned God - An Unofficial Biography. It is worth your time and the virile image it conjures for the soul.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All about Colour

Living in tune with the seasons has brought me into closer contact with specific colours over the last few years. I never associated my various colour preferences to weather or nature much before but as each summer arrives I find that one or a certain combination of colours will jump out at me. In these moments it is almost as if I have never seen the colour before and there it is, enticing me, and delighting me every time I see it.

This gorgeous coral pink/orange began to be my favorite 5 years ago. It still speaks to me and I've combined it with chocolate brown, blues and greens. Just a bright, happy colour that is rich but rarely overpowering.

These were my wedding colours. Bright green, fuchsia and a blue close to turquoise. Our wedding was in the garden and I used a backdrop of white tablecloths to pop the colours out. I swagged the main tables in this ribbon and had various other references to these shades throughout the decor. Including: Gerbera daisies in fuchsia as centerpieces, my maid of honour wore a green and blue dress, and I hung shear ribbons in these colours from the trees around the ceremony site with small pieces of mirror attached that reflected light.

So what colour has made a place in my hear this summer? Yellow of course. Fashion and design trends have been using yellow for a few seasons now but something happened to yellow and I this summer...and well, I can't get enough of it.

For instance look at this Yarrow! Isn't it stunning? It is called terracotta and to be honest the tag said it goes from salmon pink to terracotta to cream....but this looks yellow to me. My Yarrow is loving this hot, dry weather and I've noticed wild Yarrow all over the city in ditches and on road sides. The wild yarrow is even more intense in colour, rivaling Goldenrod in it's brightness.
This is my sunny, happy person dress that I wore to a lovely June wedding. It jumped off the rack and into my closet. Luckily it was also on sale and perfect for my budget. I can't wait to wear this dress again. I've never had a yellow dress before. The photo makes it look a bit more sunflower yellow but I would say it's closer to butter.

And I just had to include this worn and simple quilt that was on our bed at the cabin on Salt Spring Island. Just a perfect hit of lemon. Yellow and white go great together.

Yellow is a great colour for it moves through each season. Sunny summers full of bright flowers, leaves in heaps in the fall. For winter time I think of squash and warm fires and for spring it is the hint of blossoms and the tone of the dead grass as green shoots start emerging. What are your colours this summer? Does your favorite ever change or do you stick with one? What do you associate with them? Colours say so much about your emotional and mental state. I guess mine is pretty sunny right now.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


This month's poem and self-portrait feel slightly indulgent. But perhaps I'm too modest and one must do some self-reflection from time to time. Both the photo and poem were inspired on Salt Spring Island, BC.

Gifts to Me

in a secret garden the wind sounds like footsteps
dappled light of another kind flows,
hides, reveals simple pleasures
the simple thoughts and plans we'll make
the air fresh with lavender
the skin still warm from July sun
white leg, pale blue wings
these moments were gifts to me

bees still busy at their work
will sleep in darkness and wake with the dawn
black tailed does, their babies beside
prance behind blackberry bushes in bloom
my baby grows in his sleep
nestled under fresh breezes
bringing clouds that hold rain

a small time alone
reflection and quiet

these moments are gifts to me

Friday, July 17, 2009

Family love

We've been at the beach this week twice. The weather here on the coast is great. And hot. Today I decided that I finally had to get some baking done. I planned to get it done in the morning before the afternoon heat came on strong....a certain little boy changed my plans. Off we went for a very sweaty walk, laundry, phone calls (plans for seeing Harry Potter tonight! Can't wait)
And its afternoon and sweltering. The muffins and granola bars are made and I'm taking a break and downing water.

I wanted to take a bit of time to share a new blog that my brother-in-law is writing. okAWESOME is about Ricky's journey with his health and his life. He wants to be healthier and happier and he is writing a blog about his journey to keep himself motivated. Our family is very proud that he is so courageous and open about this process. I hope that if any of you struggle with weight or with staying motivated in your goals that you will check out his writing and lend your support.

I wish you all a great weekend and hope that you are getting some warm summer weather where ever you are.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Handmade Nation Film Review

Last Thursday night I had a night out. I went into Vancouver at the ever important bedtime hour and watched a film about crafty women. More than just a film this was an event, with a small craft fair, book sale and Q&A with the film's director Faythe Levine. Handmade Nation is about the Do-it-yourself craft culture in the U.S. that is the pulse of a new generation (view the trailer here)
There are so many crafters in this movie that it was impossible for me not to leave inspired. There was no central narrator to thread things together, other than following one crafter from her set-up at a show and throughout her day. At times I found that detracted from the flow making it hard to move from point to point but in this method's favor it made the film fresher. After all this is a DIY style of film making, documenting a bunch of DIY artists who aren't really into following "the rules" anyway.

Also because of the abundance of different profiles some of the crafters featured were not as memorable for me. Perhaps a smaller grouping would have left a different impression. I think Levine's motive for this was that she wanted to demonstrate the vastness of talents and the broadness of the community. And community is the main thread for them all. Creating in a sustainable, handmade, thoughtful, community atmosphere.

Deep down this film touched some core issues of a counterculture looking to set itself apart from the mass produced consumerism that North America is famous for. I liked that and I support that. Someday I hope to contribute my own work to that end. I learned more about myself through watching this film. The kind of person I need to be to sell at craft fairs and the level of workmanship that I need to aspire to. Truthfully I think I may not be suited to craft fairs and perhaps am more of a gallery style artist but I won't close any doors at this point. Its too early in the game of my career for that yet. In the Q&A Faythe talked about many interesting aspects of her own creative life. One piece of advice that she gave which I found invaluable was to finish things. To follow things through to the end. I see many creative people who are challenged by this. And it is one thing that I will hold on to. As I find the time to work on my technique and develop my "style" I will follow through and have something to show for it. (even if I hate it when I'm done)

If you are a crafty/creative/artsy type this is a great movie, full of inspiration and people with the courage to do it their way. Support indie film! Faythe also let us know that DVD copies of the film will be on sale in September from (who are featured in the film) So if you can't make it to a screening you can buy the DVD. Craft on!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lawns and Bees and change, oh my!

My mother's lovely garden and pesticide free lawn

This summer has brought about some interesting developments in my local community. The first is a short article in Burnaby Now where their headline was: "Is the lawn out of style?" and for many important reasons I think that it is. The article mentions a suburb of Sacramento, California, that has a Cash for Grass program, encouraging locals to remove their conventional grass lawns and replace them with drought-resistant plants. This is a sustainable option for areas with water scarcity. Lawns are a strange obsession in suburbia, driving people to use pesticides and other horrible chemicals to have perfectly groomed green grass that you never even see people walking on. Another wonderful option for use in cities and suburbs for conventional lawn space is for growing food. The price and demand for food is rising, you could use your lawn space to grow a small garden and feed your family fresh vegetables for a few months. This article mentioned that many California initiatives are adopted here in BC and they could see the Cash for Grass program being introduced here in the next few years.

A development that has been initiated here in Burnaby, by a unanimous city council is that homeowners can keep their own bees. Bee populations are on the decline worldwide and so this will allow us to help bees and encourage their vital survival. Some homeowners expressed concerns about bee stings, but bees rarely sting and are only interested in pollinating their hearts out. Many people mistake bee stings for wasps or hornets.

In Vancouver they have voted to allow homeowners to raise their own hens for eggs, also a great way to provide fresh food for our families. Not yet being a homeowner I can not get rid of my grass lawn, erect a bee house or have my own chickens but I try and do my part just the same. I planted annuals and perennials this year that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and I am growing tomatoes and green peppers in pots on my balcony. I am very encouraged to read articles from my community that show positive changes happening in the mindset of homeowners. Cities and suburbs must adapt their tiny patches of earth to make them as sustainable as possible. The benefits are endless and depending on how climate change affects us in the years to come these changes may become a matter of survival.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Island of Delights

A wonderful two days was had by each family member over the weekend. Salt Spring Island is a "magical" place (quoting Dave) We loved the warm sun, our cozy cabin and the quiet time. The Saturday market in Ganges is one of the best I've ever visited. Unique, affordable wares and great food.
The tranquility of St. Mary's lake was very helpful in setting the mood. I was out in the lake as often as I could be watching the dragonflies dancing over the surface.

In the evening I went and found some blackberry bush blooms and had some quiet time. Again we were visited by blacktail deer. This time even with some spotted babies grazing beside them.

Sacred Mountain Lavender held their 7th annual Lavender festival when we were there. What a feast for the senses. The fields were awash with colour as you can see, but we also were graced by the humming of bees, happily collecting pollen, lavender lemonade (which is our family's new favorite drink) a fantastic catered meal of lavender and peppercorn crusted salmon and the aroma of a lavender distillery in work. There was no way to leave this place stressed out.

We loved our island get-a-ways this year. We spent lots of time on the water in ferries, canoes, kayaks or swimming. We ate great food, had great company and watched Kyan delight in all the new sights, smells and sounds around him. The island way of life is appealing to us. Who knows what the future may bring.