Thursday, August 14, 2014

Steam rises from my bowl of oatmeal, visible in the cool morning air. Finches sing and wrens scold, filling the air with life. A young Goldfinch flutters wings and lowers head, begging his father for food. A loud humming heralds the arrival of a hummingbird, who is suddenly hovering a couple of yards in front of me as she studies me. Two sleek yearling does and two young bucks sporting velvet-covered spike antlers waft silently through the yard, pausing to nibble fresh grasses on their way from woods behind to woods in front, as Rowan lies beside me watching calmly.

My morning dog training client cancelled at the last moment this morning, so I've been enjoying the unexpected gift of a slow morning. Breakfast on the deck in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt-- such a treat in August, some leisurely sketching, laundry hung on the line (always so satisfying), and time for a bit of relaxed reading. I have a full afternoon and evening schedule ahead of me, so am thankful for a quieter than planned morning to just be.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Musings on Busyness and Slowing through Sketching

For the past few months I've been pondering my schedule and working on slowing down internally, which has meant slowing down externally quite a bit. I tend to get too busy, then step back, then gradually (or not so gradually) get too busy again after a refreshing time of less on my schedule.

I've been doing some looking inward to try and figure out why, when I love solitude and peace so much, I keep getting myself over committed. I have some answers and probably have more to discover, but for now, I am enjoying the freedom of a less scheduled calendar and more time with Stephen, and for art, for walking with my dogs, and for cleaning my house and cooking (which I really enjoy when I'm not squeezing it in between too many demands).

One encouraging result of setting priorities was that within a day I began to think creatively and with enthusiasm about several things I had seemed to lose all inspiration for. Ideas have began popping into my head, sometimes when I least expect them, and I am eager to move forward with them. But, I'm taking my time and giving careful thought to my schedule and what I can fit in without cramming the essentials into the corners of an impossibly full week.

I'm hoping to post sketches, paintings, and writing a bit more often, so today I'm getting started with a sketch of a favorite jug of mine. I've been taking a sketching class called "Seeing" through Sketchbook Skool, and this is the final week of class. I didn't sign up until two weeks into the six week course, because I didn't have time, but when I realized how much I was stunting myself emotionally and spiritually by not allowing time for art, I signed up and worked on catching up. It was a great decision and has given me a much-needed jump start for sketching in a way that gets me to slow down, look more carefully, and see beyond the superficial glance. The instructor this week is Liz Steel, and one assignment is to sketch a teacup or other object, so I did this jug. I have greatly enjoyed all the instructors for this course, and I'm hoping to post some of my earlier sketches, but this is all for today.

I've been making tea in this jug for years, but today, for some reason, it got many little cracks in the glaze (and maybe deeper) when I poured boiling water into it. Unless, perhaps, it was already cracked and I hadn't noticed, but that seems unlikely, since I've used it nearly every day. Anyway, I decided to sketch it, since I really like it and wonder if it will soon fall apart. I hope it doesn't. It didn't come from anyone special; I think I may have found it at Goodwill, but I love the rich brown, the beige trim, the simple shape, and its usefulness. It just fits me and our home, and often holds our wonderful well water or some delicious variety of tea.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy 11th Birthday, Rowan!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful Rowan, the dog who, in some ways, knows me better than I know myself. It's hard to believe my boy is eleven, except when I remember how his face used to have much stronger color. He's not really going gray, he's going white (kind of like me). He used to have such strong reddish color around his eyes, and that has all faded, making his eyes seem darker. That just highlights for me how much Rowan watches me-- those dark eyes are following me much of the day, with his characteristic head bob showing when he's trying to figure out what I'm going to do next. I love seeing that subtle little bob, as he watches me walking along and tries to figure out which way I'll turn.

He's slowing down some, and often prefers to sit in the shade and watch Petra and Milo run, but every now and then he gets a spurt of energy and runs through the yard, his magnificent coat waving in the breeze.

If I say "Just Rowan," he leaps up from the hearth where he's usually sleeping and comes running, knowing that he's going to be the only dog to go outside with me. We were just outside this evening having some birthday fun, just Rowan and me, playing one of our favorite games. I either tell him to wait or sneak around to the far side of something, in this case a bunch of flowers, and then turn to face Rowan. Rowan will sit or stand tall watching me for a moment, then race around to join me, while I try to beat him around to the other side. He always catches up to me, and we laugh together.

We've been playing this game for 11 years now and neither of us has tired of it. I hope I get to play it with my boy for many more years and get to have him walking by my side watching my every move for a long time to come.
Happy Birthday, Rowan! You are a joy and a blessing in so many ways.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Nine years ago today...

Nine years ago, a little red puppy was born. I didn't meet her until three weeks later, when I fell in love with a small, sweet puppy who snuggled into my arms and fell asleep.
That may have been a ploy on her part, as that was the last time we saw her asleep until several years had passed.
 Years full of running...
playing with friends...


jumping for joy...

leaping up trees...

 watching for us to come home

being a little sister to Rowan...
snuggling on laps...

and being a faithful shadow..

I can't imagine life without this little red dog. She is my companion whenever I slip out at night to savor the starlight or walk under the full moon. She curls quietly beside my chair whenever I sit to read. She has a contagious way of living fully in the moment that helps me see and experience the fullness of life. With all her idiosyncrasies and quirks, she occupies a unique spot in our home, and with all her devotion and love, she fills our hearts.

Happy Birthday, Petra, and may you have many more years of exuberance and joy!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Warblers, Mink, and More

The wildlife have been more abundant or, at least, more apparent than usual around our home this past week. We're in the midst of spring bird migration, which has new species arriving daily from points south. It's hard to concentrate on much else, and Stephen and I have both been prowling around our yard, woods, and swampy area, binoculars in hand, watching and listening for warblers and other birds.

I've been filling sketchbook pages with daily lists of our sightings, which include our regular year-round birds, as well as the new arrivals who will stay for the summer, and those that are just passing through on their way farther north. Some of my sketches are from memory, some I do while observing the birds, and some are from photos (warblers don't sit still long enough for much sketching).

Last Thursday I was walking in the yard, enjoying the sunshine and warmth, both relatively rare this spring until that point, when I saw a mink scampering along the side of the stream, a mouse dangling from his mouth! The last time I saw a mink here was twenty-six years ago when one ran across the driveway in front of my car (I was so excited I drove right off the driveway!). I love knowing that there is a rarely seen but nonetheless fully present parallel world of wildlife that knows our land as their home.

(click on images to enlarge them)


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Predawn Musings

Moonlight always calls to me when it shines bright, lighting the outdoors and peering in through windows, beckoning me from the comfort of my bed, from the security of my house. I step outside into the magical light of night, and Petra, somehow knowing when I'm drawn to the moonlit night, leaves her comfortable bed to eagerly but silently join me.  We leave Steve and the other dogs sleeping, while we pad around the yard, filling and quieting heart and soul.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Like a Lion...

March's leonine nature has stepped to the fore, roaring in on a north wind during the night,  painting frost pictures on windows and thickly coating the deck with ice. The previously melting snow is now coated with a thick crust of ice, on which I could walk if it weren't so slippery. The feeders, nearly deserted yesterday, are bustling with birds today. Warm in wool, I watch, as I sip my tea and enjoy winter from my window.

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