Sunday, April 29, 2012

A week of braiding, reading, and planting

Oh, it has been such a busy, but fun week.  A satisfying one in which I learned a new craft/skill.  A week in which I took the time to think about a book I finished last week, found myself engrossed in another, and watched as little seedlings grew just a bit more as more seeds sprouted.  Yes, weeks like that are extremely satisfying.

I am not saying that the week was without problems.  An extremely windy day managed to pry my window screens from my bedroom window and by the time this was noticed, the screens were long gone.  So, at this time, I am unable to open the window lest something fly into my flat.  New screens are on order and the company that is to install them and who installed the first set of screens, has been asked to make sure that the screens are now screwed into the window frame preventing the wind from absconding or a wee feline from pushing the screen out and find herself on the ground below the window.

As you know, last week I told you about Twixt, the book written by Diane J Reed.  I find myself still thinking back to the book and the story.  Diane, if you are reading this, I think you could write another book carrying on with these characters as there is more to the story of Chance Murphy.  I am not prepared to let him go just yet and feel as if I have lost a friend with the book ending, the story completed.  I am certain that Chance has more life lessons to teach us in his gentle way and so I ask you to at least think about another installment about the man/bird.  Enough said.  I will only add that if you enjoy a story with a bit of the mystical in it, then you really do need to read Twixt.  I would be interested if you found yourself as involved as I did and reluctant to say good-bye to the characters.

The next book on my reader is Persuasion by Arlene Dickinson, a very successful entrepreneur who runs a major company in Canada with branches in Calgary and Toronto.  The book covers a bit of her early life, where she was, what happened to bring her and make her who she is today and lessons in how to go through life successfully either in business or I have found that the lessons in the book can be applied to your daily life.  The book is a good read, chatting to you as if you both were sitting in a cafe chatting comfortably and you find that the discussion is one that you want to remember word for word in order to make notes about it at a later time.  Good common sense advice given in a way that you do not feel that someone is preaching to you and making you feel incompetent.  I am enjoying the book immensely and cannot wait to get back to it each day.  I suspect that I may have a couple of late nights in order to find more time to read since the daytime hours are full with me spending time in the studio, trying to stay on top of the tidy up required to keep one's home in prime condition and all other tasks that crop up in my daily life. 

My little garden is progressing nicely with more seeds sprouting and waiting their turn to be potted up into larger pots that will hopefully be their final home.  More seeds are ready to be planted in order to bring about more crops of basil and dill for later in the season.  I suspect their will be a few more seeds planted to bring about some flowering plants, just to add a bit of colour to the balcony.  Keeping an eye on all the plants and seedlings to make sure that they are watered enough keeps me busy along with the potting up of the larger seedlings.  I have hauled home enough soil that I am certain the shoppe clerk must wonder what I am doing with it and what kind of garden is growing on a balcony.  Some day when everything is growing and showing a lot of greenery, I will take some snaps to bring along with me when I am out shopping and show the clerk just what I have been trying to accomplish.

The big project for the week was to learn about kumihimo, the art of Japanese braiding.  I purchased the loom from an online supplier of beading supplies and it arrived very quickly.  I watched a tutorial on a web site and away I went to load up the loom and see what I could accomplish.  The art of braiding is actually very calming and you can easily find yourself in a zen like mood whilst calmly moving one thread to another position and on and on.  I was foolish enough to use embroidery floss for my first project and it did take considerable time to produce the strand of braiding that will likely become a bracelet or a bookmark.

Moving on to the next piece to be made, I used a material known as rat tail, a tightly wound piece of fabric that is much thicker than embroidery floss.  This actually worked up into a lovely piece suitable for a bracelet once the proper end caps and clasps have been added.  Surprisingly, I had woven the piece in less than

Just because I was curious as to how the finished project would turn out, I tried the braiding using thin ribbons that I had on hand.  These translated into a lovely braid that worked up quickly without too much angst.  In fact, I was able to do the weaving and watch a bit of telly at the same time. Now, I am not saying that you do not need to be mindful of what you are doing.  That is not the case.  But, when you are moving along nicely, feeling confident that you can follow the pattern without actively thinking about each placement, you will find yourself relaxed, in a happy place and able to listen to music or be somewhat aware of whatever babble is currently being shown on daytime/night time telly.  I find the braiding much more interesting than the television and find myself thinking that certain colours of ribbon would be quite attractive if paired with some beads I picked up on a whim not so long ago.  There are directions for weaving and working beads into your project in online tutorials and I hope to tackle this variation sometime in the near future.  At this point, I find myself content to work with just the threads and want to try a few variations on the placement of the threads.

I see that there are several good books available on the art of kumihimo.  I hope to purchase one or two of these to get more ideas as to how to proceed with the craft and what all I might be able to make.  From what I have seen online, there are a lot of bracelets and necklaces that can be made, with some of them being very trendy while others would be suitable as gifts for the more traditional persons that are in our lives.  Kumihimo is definitely something that I will be working on for quite some time.  I have included some snaps of the pieces that are currently done in terms of braiding.  They need only have the end posts added along with clasps or split rings on which keys can be placed.  A few may become bookmarks and I would likely finish those off with some beads to swing on the end of the braid.  Might just as well make pretty bookmarks instead of using a stray piece of paper.  The nice thing about the weaving is that you can easily tuck it in your purse and pull it out when you find yourself waiting at the doctor's office or when you are sitting having a quiet cup of coffee in a food court.  I love being able to work on pieces to keep my hands busy whilst out and about on my day.  Idle hands and all that, you know.  I am just not someone who can sit idle for any length of time or I begin to get stressed and feel that I should be doing something.

So, that is the week that was.  This week will find me continuing to read Persuasion and working on my kumihimo braiding.  My little garden will continue to grow or so I hope and I plan to plant up more seeds on Monday.  I am eagerly watching my plants in anticipation of the herbs and flowers that will hopefully appear in due time.  That is part of the joy of gardening, the anticipation of what is to come along with the realization that a certain amount of work that will be required to make it all happen.  Everything that brings joy or satisfaction requires a certain amount of effort.  That is the way life is supposed to roll out or at least that is my belief.  No gain is made unless a certain amount of effort is expended. 

Just a mention of a web site that has just celebrated its first anniversary.  Julie Anne Rhodes, the chef behind has an approach to cooking that we can all benefit from trying out.  The Personal Chef Approach provides you with recipes for a week's worth of meals that can be cooked in a few hours.  You set aside a few hours to do the cooking of all the entrees and freeze them for later use.  In my case, I can decide what recipes I am going to cook and whilst it takes me a little longer to get the cooking done in my small kitchen, the end result is that I have enough meals put away in my freezer to last for two to three weeks.  I do not have to worry about what I am going to eat for my evening meal each day, the meal is portion controlled and I save money in that I am not tossing out unused food that is beyond being safe to consume.  Julie Anne puts up a new menu each Wednesday along with the directions for cooking and the shopping list.  All you have to do is go through the shopping list, mark off items you already have in the pantry and shop for what you need.  Then, pick the time when you can have a few hours to cook, using the oven, your slow cooker and the stove top.  Get other items ready to go into the oven and you are in the home stretch, meaning that you will soon be portioning out the meals, cooling them and then freezing them until you are ready to use them.

I really recommend checking out Julie Anne's site and joining the group.  Membership gives you access to the recipe library as well as the forum where we all chime in with our opinions or ask for help with something cooking related.  Molly, Julie Anne's assistant, joins in and answers questions, especially those related to baking.  Julie Anne's specialty is getting you cooking some amazing meals without the stress of not knowing what to cook, what to buy, how to safely handle the foods and freeze them.  The site has web tutorials to help you learn new procedures.  It is as easy as signing up for a membership which is more than worth the amount you will spend each month or if you are wise, purchase the yearly membership and save a few dollars.  Give it a try for a few months and see how much you come to depend on the site for meal time assistance.  You will never look back to how your dinner time prep used to be.  You will have more time for activities that you want to pursue or time for you to spend on yourself, your family.  Truly a win/win situation!

Have a wonderful week!  I hope you have plans to work on some personal pursuits whether they be of an artistic or other nature.  Take some time to enjoy each day, you never know what pleasures await you at the next bend of the journey.  Let me know what you are doing and how your garden is growing, how your art project is progressing.

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A week of gardening, art and majick

Hard to believe it, but another week has passed by.  Whilst it may have seemed slow paced by times, in fact, a lot happened and somehow, I found myself running to get certain tasks completed on time. Usually, just in time.  Hard to fathom how I could run behind when I really do not have a schedule that is engraved in stone.  But, I too frequently found myself lost in the art of painting, gardening or spending some quality time reading.  These activities, along with tending to a furry flat mate who was not shy about letting me know that it was time to play, seemed of more importance than pushing through another load of laundry or sorting out cupboards to make a shopping list.  I frequently looked up from what I was doing to find that three, four, or even five hours has elapsed.  Mind boggling how that can happen!

You see, some days I find my concentration level lacking in quality and my mind flits from one thought to another without pause.  I can be loading up my paint tray with acrylics only to find that what I would really rather be doing would be to pour yet another cup of coffee and sit down to read with a wee furry kitten settled down for a nap on my lap.  Molly gets a tad annoyed when I reach out to grab the largish mug of coffee as it unsettles her from her preferred pose whilst dozing.  This week was one where my attention span was relentlessly focused and I somehow managed to paint, read, garden and then some when it came to activities close to my heart.  It was definitely a week of pure majick!

My little garden is progressing nicely with several pots already out on the balcony allowing the newly sprouted seedlings to toughen up and get ready to stay outside.  I have planted the seedlings up into larger pots and hope that these will provide sufficient room for them to grow over the next while.  The little greenhouse contraptions have been suited up again to house newly planted seeds which will provide more basil, some godetia, sage, and cilantro.  Once these seeds take root and start sending up some greenery, I plant to plant up a few more seeds allowing for more basil, some pansies, and a few other plants that catch my fancy over the next week or two.  I have set some basil, parsley and cilantro seeds aside to get another crop growing inside to keep me in fresh herbs over the fall and winter.  At least, that is the plan for the moment.  This could change should my harvest of herbs provide more than I can reasonably expect to use even with freezing some of the bounty.  My little Garden of Eden is proving to be an interesting experience and keeping me busy with all the misting, potting up and keeping a watchful eye over it to ensure that all seedlings are happy for the moment.

When I was not tending to my garden, I was in the studio staring at blank canvases that somehow ended up being completed for the most part, in one sitting.  Consequently, there are three new snaps of completed acrylic paintings that have touches of acrylic paints, not that you would really notice these little touches.  I know they are there only because that is how I added accents of colour here and there.  But, truthfully, these could have been accomplished with washes of acrylic paints thinned out with a bit of water.  That would not have allowed for me to experiment with the inks to see what all could be accomplished with them.  I still aim to work with the inks exclusively to see how far I can push their capabilities.  You never know what you can do until you try a few things out on test canvases.  But, I can tell you that it is easier to work on larger pieces than it is to try to push detail onto smaller pieces such as ones in the 4 by 6 inch pieces that I have been experimenting with lately. 

I am trying to paint the same subject in three or four different ways, seasons if you will.  I have done up one canvas, a landscape, primarily in blue, a second, another landscape, blue with purple, and the third, a floral, in yellows, oranges, citrus like tones with some deeper red tones.  This week, I hope to push the envelope and try a similar scenes, but done in blacks, greys with the possible inclusion of  smokey blues.  Something very dark that would beg someone to ask what I might have been thinking about whilst painting such a dire scene.  The truth is that when I am painting, my mind goes all over the place whilst still concentrating on what is unfolding in front of me.  I lose complete track of time unless the telephone jars me to consciousness and forces me to reach over to grab the handset.  Luckily, I have two handsets in the studio.  One is cordless, the other plugged into a telephone jack in the wall opposite to my preferred perch when painting.  So, the cordless pretty much follows me around allowing me to keep in touch with the outside world or talk with the postal delivery should there be a parcel requiring my signature.  Very handy, as it turns out I had two such deliveries last week.

Now, on top of gardening and painting, I spent some quality hours with another book loaded on to my e-reader.  "Twixt" is a book that I learned about when Donna J Reed (@TWIXTbook) started to follow me on Twitter.  I look at the bio of each person who decides to follow me and I was intrigued to see that Donna was the author of a book.  I then went to a book site to read about "Twixt" and knew that it was one that I needed to read starting immediately if not sooner.  I do not want to spoil the story for anyone, but "Twixt" is definitely a majickal read, one that will capture your attention as well as your heart.  The love of a mother for her daughter who seems to be trapped within her body and is unable to respond will without a doubt have you anxious for her safety and for her own spirit and soul to return to the little one's body.  A stranger, who rescued the mother and child in one instance, returns to once again save the child from another terror ridden incident where she has wandered away from home in the dark of night.  This mysterious man weaves himself in and out of life deftly.  But sadly, he appears unaware of his importance in their lives.  Whilst I still have a few chapters left to read, I can highly recommend this book and give it a five star rating.  How can a grown woman become so addicted to a book?  I love anything that is suspenseful, especially if it involves characters from the outside the realm of our day to day lives.  We all need a little majick and yes, I realize that this spelling is not the conventional one typically found in most dictionaries.  But then, this type of majick is not the oft depicted pulling of a rabbit from a hat.  There is a huge distinction between the two of these spellings and you need to look into your heart to see the difference.

This week looks like another busy week!  It appears that I am in sync with my inner muse and can hope to accomplish or at least spend some quality time in the studio.  It seems that my mind is working overtime and wants to paint as much as humanly possible whilst still spending time with all other artistic or creative endeavours.  Books are definitely at the top of my list with fiction, artistic technique and jewelery the subjects I am drawn towards.  I found an article about a Japanese braiding technique known as "kumihimo."    Pursuing this art form is at the top of my list since any and all Japanese arts are of interest to me.  Painting on rice paper also intrigues me and will likely be something that I try out in the future.  But, for some reason, jewelry is part of my dreams and I seem to focus on the types of bracelet, brooches or necklaces being shown in magazines and in jewelry shoppe showcases.  Knowing that buying some of these pieces would involve some serious money, I would rather learn on my own how to make some interesting techniques that could lead to either wearable art or become part of a piece destined to hang on a wall at some point.  I will keep you posted as to how this learning adventure progresses and where it takes me.

Meanwhile, I am planning a little trip to a store carrying art supplies hoping to find some glue and a few other items that I need in order to proceed on my journey.  Having a look at some beading supplies is something I anticipate doing soon.  Whilst I do not have a firm plan as to how beads will work their way into what I am doing, I am equally sure that the many patterns, colours and variety of beads will come to play and influence the colours that I choose over the next while.  My little garden will take up a certain amount of time between the tending and planting of seeds.  Truthfully, I cannot wait to see the plants grow and become more than just little bits of greenery sprouting on the top of the soil laden pots. 

I would love to hear about what you are up to whether it is gardening, reading or creating artistically.  It is always fun to hear about what others are doing and perhaps get inspired to try growing a particular plant or or embrace another type of Japanese braiding.  Time spent learning something new is time well spent.

Have a wonderful week!

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Life in the not so Garden of Eden

I wrote about my gardening plans last Sunday and I am picking up from where I left off at that point.  My not so "Garden of Eden" is progressing nicely, albeit not as lush in greenery as the first ever garden was reported to be.  My little garden is still very much in a start up phase with more seedlings sprouting and showing signs of life.  Of course, I am still planting even more seeds in hopes of bumper crops of flora and fauna that will amaze not only myself, but some of my skeptical neighbours.

Admittedly, three types of basil, at least two of parsley, savory, rosemary, dill and a few other herbs will most certainly provide not only myself, but a few carefully chosen friends.  The little crop of tomatoes will be frozen for use through the fall and winter months if my plants decide to go wild and send out bounteous blooms that all lead to my much desired fruit crop.  Cherry tomatoes are so wonderful in salads, but I enjoy just a few cut into chunks with basil, a goodly amount of black pepper and just a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar.  I can actually smell the scent of the ripened tomatoes as I type this post.  More likely the scent comes from the tomatoes on the counter top waiting to be sliced for the evening meal rather than my very much over active imagination.

All the seedlings that I planted about ten days ago have sprouted with the exception of a few.  My little green house contraption has done its job well and the seedlings continue in their development and will be planted up later this week into their starter pots.  The starter geraniums that I purchased have also gone through an amazing transformation and now look like proper healthy plants with one plant even in bloom today.  I was out and about one day this past week and found some more scraggly geraniums hiding under a shelf in a shoppe and got them for a decent price.  So, six more little plants have been potted up into two pots and whilst they still look pretty gnarly, I expect with a little TLC that they will turn around and be splendid within a week or two.

I must tell you this, I have more seeds on their way this week from a splendid greenhouse operation that offers all things related to growing herbs, the plants themselves, seeds, dried herbs as well as essential oils.  I am truly excited at the prospect of the seeds arriving this week and cannot wait to plant said seeds.  My line of thinking is to compare the run of the mill seeds I purchased locally to the very much touted high quality seeds from the catalog of goodies of all things pertaining to gardeners.  I will let you know whether or not it is worth the investment to buy the higher quality seeds.  Truthfully, the cost of the greenhouse seeds was very similar to the ones I purchased already.  It will be interesting to compare the basil genevose from each purveyor to see if the plants differ in quality, the abundance of leaves and the ever important taste test.   I am making notes as the days go along so that I can review them in length before the garden of 2013 is planned and planted.

Looking through seed catalogs is rather like looking through clothing catalogs.  You try to envision how the plants will look growing on the balcony in different pots.  You wonder what combination of herbs will best serve you in terms of usefulness.  This leads to research as to the recipes you favour and the herbs used in each as well as searching out what variety of that particular herb is best used in said recipe.  This gardening is not as simple as it sounds and involves as much mentally as it does physically.  Research seems to be involved in every aspect of my daily routine lately, but I will go into that at another time.

So, as I mentioned, most of the herbs and flower seeds have sprouted little seedlings that still need to develop a bit more before being potted up.  I have brought home numerous pots for this part of the gardening cycle as well as two huge bags of potting soil meant especially for what I am doing.  Once the plants have grown a bit more and been potted up to the next size pot, I will put them out on the balcony for a few hours each day to harden them off and get them used to being outside in all that wonderful light.  My luck, it will rain when I am planning to do this or just be dark and gloomy.  Not to despair, I will still put the little plants out and hope that they get used to being off of my inner window sill and kitchen table.  Molly Cat is getting anxious that her window perch has been taken over by greenery that she is not allowed to nibble on.  My lovely yellow kalanchoe is showing evidence of Molly's quest for fresh nibbles with little yellow remains of blooms being left on the rug.  Sighhhhh!
Keeping Molly from plants is like trying to keep a brownie addict from inhaling the freshly baked pan cooling on the counter.  It just cannot be done to any satisfying degree of proficiency. 

What else is going on in the life of the artist in training you might ask?  Well, I am trying to capture hand poses using my lovely wooden mannequin.  I am keeping the poses politically correct so as not to upset anyone who happens to open my sketch book.  My cleaning lady was here this past Friday and I very prudently put the mannequin in my studio out of her line of sight.  Poor Judy was terribly concerned when she first saw the mannequin and backed away from it as if it were some evil talisman of impending doom.  Really, it was in a very natural pose and not anything that should have alarmed anyone.  But, my Judy is a very skittish lady and becomes terribly agitated over things like books I use for research, some of my dark sketches and so on.  I have found it wise to do a decluttering process prior to her arrival and put away any materials that might spook her.  I smile as I type this as I realize that I left out a book on the significance of different candles and the rituals in which they are used.  Ooopsy!  Note to self:  take note of books I leave on the bedside table and put away any of them that are not main stream fiction.

I did finish reading Danny Price's "How to Make a Journal of Your Life."  It took me a little longer to get through it than I had anticipated due to my concentration not being what it normally would be.  This in no way reflects the content of the book.  Whilst I did enjoy the book and found it did give some interesting perspectives on how to put together a journal that truly reflects yourself, it did get just a tad overdone and rambled a bit.  I like a book that gets to the point, gives some relevant examples and keeps moving at a good pace.  Price's book gets points for offering up essential materials to have on hand, how to find a journal that you can work with along with some interesting stories and observations along the way.  But, it just gets a little too wordy and could have tightened up a bit in each chapter.  I do not need to be told when I can have a cookie and unfortunately, Price's reward for making your way through a chapter and following his directives, is to tell you that you can have a cookie.  He even provides you with his daughter's recipe for chocolate chip cookies in the event that you do not have a recipe to follow or a jar of store bought biscuits.  I would give this book four stars for its originality and ease of reading.  I was never bored, but then I was never so involved that I could not put it down to do something else.  I think you get my drift.

I did finish Bird by Bird.  I cannot recall if I mentioned that in an earlier post.  And so I am now on to a business type of book.  "Persuasion, A New Approach to Changing Minds" by Arlene Dickinson is my book of choice at the moment.  Ms Dickinson is CEO and the owner of one of Canada's top independent marketing firms Venture Communications and has a lot to say about how persuasion works into business modules as well as into daily life for everyone.  You do not need to be a business person to relate to what she writes, only someone who enjoys and respects another who is open and honest in their dealings both in the boardroom and out in their daily encounters with day to day activities of family life.  I sat for two hours Saturday evening reading this book and did not want to put it down even to fill my coffee cup once again.  I expect that I will be reading and finishing this book over the next few days and able to report to you next Sunday on how it progressed and whether I found it to be a worthy read.  At this point, I am thoroughly enjoying the common sense and pace of the book, leaving me to feel that Ms Dickinson does have something to say that will benefit everyone from the no nonsense business person right on to the parent being badgered to help out with yet another bake sale, charity benefit or chaperone duty on a school trip to yet another museum.  Yep, this is one smart lady and I have learned a lot already in the time spent reading her book.

I hope your week was as fun as mine turned out to be!  There is something about getting your hands dirty and planting a garden that is good for the soul.  To see results, the lovely little seedlings showing their tiny leaves and growing with each passing day that reinforces your determination to make this garden the best you can possibly achieve.  Add to that some noteworthy books that have captured your attention and you have the makings of a wonderful week that makes you feel that your time was well spent.  At least, I feel that my time was well spent despite the kitchen table being taken over by seedlings waiting for their moment in the sun.

Have a wonderful week and I would love to hear about your gardens, what you have planted, your hopes for the plants, and of course what you are reading at the moment.  You know, a journey is very personal.  Everyone goes at their own pace and follows the beat of the drum that they happen to hear.  You do not have to move quickly, in fact moving slowly and savouring each step is really the best way to approach this journey.

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The journey goes down the garden path!

Well, I am doing something that I have not done in many years.  In one of my moments when I thought I should take on something else just for the fun of it, I decided that I should have a garden on my balcony this year.  I have the odd house plant in the flat, but have not done anything full scale in terms of gardening in over thirty years.  Wow, that is a long time, but famous for my courage, I am willing to have a go at it again.

Gardening has been something I have dreamed of for quite some time, but I never quite got around to actually planting anything or getting a few starter plants to pot up.  So, right now, my kitchen is looking like a miniature holding station for little greenhouses, lots of green pots and another huge bag of soil propped up in the corner.  There are some little geranium starter plants that have been potted up into larger pots and much to my surprise, there are actually a few blooms shooting up and should be in full colour in a day or two.

What got me going on this mission was the thought of having fresh herbs to use and if there happens to be more than I can reasonably expect to use, I will freeze them to use at a later date.  Whilst chatting with my sister and talking about pesticides on vegetables in the grocery stores and sodium in tinned veg, she suggested that I might invest in having a few tomato plants growing on the balcony.  My balcony faces west and so it is more than sunny enough to support a few pots of tomatoes, the little cherry type that I enjoy so much.  I wonder if four plants will keep me supplied with enough tomatoes to eat and maybe some extra to freeze?  I will have to let you know as the plants develop and see the actual blooms begin showing me an idea of the crop yield.

As for herbs, I have indulged and have three types of basil planted along with some chives, rosemary and some savory.  Oh, and two types of parsley.  I got a little crazy when I was picking out the seeds and decided to go for broke and indulge the inner culinary diva that I would like to become.  Looking at all the pots on my table, floor and window sill, I am thinking this is going to be a fair amount of work over the next few months.  But, what would the journey be without a challenge or two along the way?  Signs of life are already developing in the little greenhouse contraptions that I bought to start up the seeds.  It really is quite exciting!  Molly Cat is quite curious about all the green pots that she is not allowed to touch, and so far, I have been able to keep her from exploring my little family of herbage plus some.  I am so hoping that she behaves long enough for me to get the seedlings developed to the stage where I can harden them off and pot them up into their final containers.  Pictures will come along as my little green babies develop their leaves.

But, you have to know that I could not just leave my yearning for a garden rest at this point with only a few geraniums for colour.  Yes, I did indulge in a few packets of seeds of a more colourful nature.  Morning glories, godetia, nasturtiums, a black flower with a white picot edging with a name I cannot remember for the life of me, along with a few more colourful blooms w ill be keeping the herbs company on the balcony over the next few months.  Somewhat giddy with the prospect of all these plants to enjoy, I have to hope that they all survive the germination process and develop into hardy little plants that colour up the somewhat austere look of concrete and iron that makes for a little extra living space during the warmer months.

I have thought about the process to keep all these plants growing and developing.  Doing my research, I selected only plants that can tolerate lots of sunshine.  Good soil that has a fertilizer in it has been brought in large quantities back to my flat along with the required pots to hold all these plants.  I have asked a couple of friends to help me out with bringing back a few containers to go on the railing, about four should do the trick.  All I need to haul back home now is a couple of trellises for the morning glories.  Oh, I guess I will need a few stakes for the tomato plants and will put that on my list for a later shopping trip when I am out and about.  As for watering all these plants, I figure filling a bucket at the kitchen sink and taking to the balcony on my walker and then using a plastic pitcher to distribute should suffice.  Judging from the number of plants, more than one bucket of water will be needed on watering days.  This is all part of the process and no journey is without a bit of work if it is to be satisfying.

You see, whilst enjoying the colour and culinary results, this journey is as much about learning from what I am putting into action.  I have never grown herbs in my life and figure this is the time to experiment.  I have learned so much from Julie Anne Rhodes (http://julieannerhodes

This post seems to appropriate since we are celebrating Easter, Passover, or other rites of the spring season.  It is a time when the days are growing longer, we seem to have a little more energy and want to indulge the senses of sight and smell.  I love the smell of potting soil, it has an energy to it that holds promise of things to come.  I am dreaming of the colour that will hopefully envelope the balcony in the days to come.  More realistically, in the months to come.  Whilst the geraniums will be showing colour in a few days, I am thinking that the soonest I will see any other colours popping up will be in about six weeks or so.  But, during the time waiting for blooms, I can quite happily tend to the watering and pampering that this little garden will take. 

Do you have any advice for this newbie gardener?  Will three types of basil, two varieties of parsley, some rosemary and savory be enough to keep me supplied with the necessary herbs over the next few months?  Oh, I forgot, there are a couple of pots of dill planted too.  Whilst I do not anticipate making any pickles, I still love the aroma of dill and think I can work it into a few recipes if I try and do the research necessary now.  Will my morning glories and nasturtiums keep me living a colourful life on the balcony?  Surely adding the godetia and other flowering plants to the mix will entice the neighbours to try and plant a garden of their own.  Maybe this will start a trend and neighbours will be comparing notes on what type of basil supplied enough leaves for a batch or two of pesto and what type of tomato was found to be the easiest to grow and provide the most fruit.  That is part of the fun of gardening, chatting with your neighbours and getting their pointers on how to stake up the plants that require staking, how often the plants should be watered and all those little tips that seed packets do not generally provide. 

What are you growing in your garden this year?  Do you have a favourite type of basil that you grow each year?  I am hoping you will share your knowledge with me whilst I blindly navigate this path on my journey.  I think I am going to need a lot of advice and suggestions!  And, as the season progresses, I will post snaps of my busy little patch of blooms and greenery.  By next Sunday, I should be able to post snaps of my cheery red and pink geraniums, that is if Molly Cat does not take a nibble on them.  I did find a few pieces of my yellow kalanchoe on the carpet the other morning with a certain feline looking somewhat guiltily away from me.  No, the blooms did not just fall off of the plant.  I know this because the blooms were just in pieces, as if a certain little black and white kitty girl had a nibble or two.  Thank goodness, she did not suffer any tummy troubles from this little escapade!  But, just to be safe, the kalanchoe is safely out of reach for the moment and I only need worry about the vase of roses and another little vase of miniature carnations remaining intact. 

Have a wonderful week and do comment and tell everyone about your garden plans for this season! 

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

Monday, April 2, 2012

Caution! Slow moving artist!

So, another week has gone by and I cannot seem to commit to any one form of artistic endeavour or creative expression.  I have played with watercolours, acrylic inks, acrylic paints and watercolour pencils.  And yet, I just do not seem to be able to capture the ideas rambling through my mind.  Actually, the ideas seem to rocket through my mind at an amazing speed and it is difficult to document them all in a notebook that I keep handy for times like these.  It seems as if my brain is moving faster than it should in terms of ideas that I want to play with and explore.  This seems to be happening not only when I am awake, but also when I am sleeping, causing me some very vivid dreams.

The dreams have been so vivid and frightening as to cause me to wake up and flee the bedroom.  I have been so restless in bed trying to fall asleep some nights that Molly Cat has taken to sleeping behind my head on another pillow and she swats me with a heavy handed paw and lets me know that I need to settle down.  Knowing that I am more than likely going to head into another dysfunctional dream of some sort, I hustle myself out of bed and make my way to the kitchen and make a cup of tea.  Two consecutive nights in the past week found me without any sleep and I headed into each morning hugging my coffee cup and praying for the powers that be allow me to have at least a few consecutive hours of sleep during the upcoming night.

But, here is the double ended sword.  The dreams are scary, but make for interesting stories.  In fact, the dreams of the past few nights seem to segue into the next and are quickly filling a notebook that I grab as soon as my eyes open and I start making observations, notes, even little diagrams of what went on in my head over the past few hours.  I recounted a bit of the action earlier today to my sister and she was somewhat horrified and suggested that I need to get out of the bedroom when I wake up from one of these terribly frightening dreams.  And that is what I do and make the necessary notations whilst sitting in the comfort of my front room with either the radio or television providing some background noise.  I even keep a DVD loaded in a portable player for these nights of quiet horror.

I am not able to come to any conclusion as to what is causing the dream activity of the past week.  But, I do have enough material to research to try at some point to put into a book.  Whether anyone would want to read such dark thoughts is not certain, but judging from the audience for the Twilight series and The Hunger Games, I think the darkness that is permeating my subconscious is more than a worthy opponent for either franchise.  That may sound terribly egocentric, but, I have been the one to view the events taking place and I am quite certain that most people would be horrified at what has taken place.  I have looked over my notes and wondered how to pull them all together and strangely, the opening sequence for the story shot into my mind.  If the dreams terrified my sister, I do not want to think how the opening of the story would affect her.  To that end, it appears I will be researching mortuaries, what happens within and afterwards.  The unfortunate part of all this is that it appeared to be me in a leading role of this dark and gloomy horror flick.  Translating it all into written word is going to take some doing and I may just have to change the story from being told in the first person to some other form.  I am not so certain that I want to be the one that meets their demise and would rather push that role onto another unsuspecting character.

Now, back in the studio, I find that I am drawn to the darker shades of blue and now want to incorporate watercolours, acrylic paints along with acrylic inks all on one canvas.  I have been playing with each medium independently and on different canvases.  None of them are capturing what I see in my mind and truthfully, I am seeing far too many ideas that need to be put down on canvas in some way.  I suspect that I need to slow down my thought process and allow myself to let one thought at a time percolate and develop.  Then, that would be the time to jot all the ideas down in my journal along with ideas of how to put them on canvas and what mediums should be used and to what extent.

Even now, late into the evening, I am debating whether the next few hours would be best spent in the studio or in bed, trying to capture the ever so elusive few consecutive hours of sleep.  At this point, I am leaning towards the studio in hopes of getting something down, anything, just to prove to myself that I still can make art.  It has been a bit of a dry spell, but not due to a shortage of ideas or prompts.  It is most certainly due to an overactive mind finding itself overflowing with a wealth of ideas and the flow will not stop long enough to allow me to finish one piece.  I run from one piece to another and back and forth until I am exhausted. 

watch the pottery shards cover a fair expanse of the room.  But, that is a story for another day!

How has your week been?  Are you able to find some studio time or time to just let your thoughts wander?  Hopefully, your thoughts wander to more pleasant places than mine have visited this week.  I am laughing whilst typing this as I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoy thriller movies and books.  But, I just never thought that I would find myself walking my way through these nightmarish waters each night when I finally hit the wall and find those few precious hours of rest.  I am wishing you pleasant dreams both during the day and night, depending when you allow yourself to rest.  Here is hoping that you find inspiration in your dreams and are able to make good use of the resources provided by your subconscious.  That is how I am hoping my week will play out! 

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

P.S.  I did bring home the hand mannequin from the art shop last week and am enjoying trying to capture the poses on a sketch pad.  My cleaning lady came in on Friday and when she walked into the front room she spotted the mannequin sitting on a table.  She backed away and looked somewhat terrified, asking what that "thing" might be.  I reassured her that it was only a wooden hand with movable joints that allowed me to pose it in different positions.  Whilst she did calm down, she did give wide berth to my much sought after prop.  I think I will put it in hiding in my supply closet the next time cleaning day comes around.  One thing I have learned over the years is that keeping your cleaning lady happy is a priority in order to keep some semblance of order around the flat.  :)