Thursday, September 23, 2010

Falling into Fall

I am not good at identifying little brown birds.
Today one smacked into the slider and I went out and provided a hospice for it before it did a little shudder and passed away. My guess is it was some sort of flycatcher but it was small. Poor wee thing but at least the cats didn't get it.

 Not to gross anyone out. There is a beauty. Such a perfect little creature and gone so swiftly. Now I would like to know whose fading life I held in my hands. Please note the underside of the little bird is mostly white but mottled in the upper parts like a young robin. The back and wings are all a lovely reddish brown with no banding on the wings.
Fall is upon us. We have begun to see Praying Mantis and Cedar Bugs and the birds are gathering to go south.
Labour Day Weekend the Wynndel Mudders put on another Rutabaga show at the Mudder's Studio and the Wynndel Hall. They made a big variety of thrown and glazed soup bowls and sold them, with soup and a bun, for $10.00. It was a great success and sold out quite early. I dug out my knit hats for the first time since last winter and will have them for sale at the greenhouse, as well as birdhouses, James' cards, and my baking.
James and Sandy Kunze held a Pallet Show in Ann's garden this week displaying a few years of colourful pallets in the jungle. It was great and folks came for wine and goodies and some nice visiting.
The Farmers Market is moving from the outside lot at Millennium Park to inside Morris Flowers Garden Center this weekend and will continue on until Dec 18.  The hours now change to 10:00 am - 2:00 pm.
I will not make the market this week. I have a nasty cold that seems to be making the rounds.
James and my Fall Paintout will be held on Sunday, Oct 18 this year as we will be doing the markets on Saturday.
James has a show coming up at Kingfisher Used Books and is a guest at the Images show this Nov 27.
It should be a busy fall.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

There is a change in the air....

                                                     James McDowell - Pears 
                                                22 x 14 - oil on canvas - $200.00

Another great market day and sold all but one of the 39 loaves and all but a few cookies and muffins which seem to get consumed in between. I thought I had retired from the Farmers Market but we do enjoy the people. It means I am baking 3 days a week and cooler weather will only be a treat.
Fall is in the air. I hate to have to break this bit of news.
The dragon flies are dancing all along the road from our place to Hwy 21 and the starlings, who were split up and raising families earlier are now flocking together.
There were over a dozen swallows swooping along in front of us this evening as we drove home and lining up along the wires.
We need a nice l-o-n-g fall to give things in the garden, stunted by our long cold spring, a chance to mature.

Some unsettling news is that there has been the problem of grizzlies digging big holes into our local dump. The refuse is buried nightly but then the critters were digging caves into it so "they" have fenced the dump - and the airport because the elk were getting on the runway.
Our property buts up against the golf course and across the road from it is the dump so it isn't very far away as the bear ambles.
Earlier this summer we had a bear amble through a couple nights and it bent the pipe my bird feeder was on down at a 45 degree angle. Now "they" have closed all the hiking trails near the Airport and dump because of grizzly bear activity: there is a large sow with her nearly adult sized cubs. This is not happy news.
I would like her to take her young-uns back up in the mountains away from us on the valley floor. Unfortunately, because the dump activity went on for a couple years, these bears are habituated to human food.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Twenty years

Yesterday was Canada Day and we celebrated by going to the annual pancake breakfast in Canyon Park and then James reminded me that it was, to the day, 20 years ago we came "home": I, after 20 years of living in the States, James as an immigrant, and our son Larry, who was 13 at the time, as a Canadian because I am his mother.
A lot has gone on and changed in 20 years. Sometimes it feels like a day and sometimes a very long time. Mostly I am amazed how quickly the years go galloping by.
We came home to Creston because my father died in the fall of 1989 and we wanted my mom to be able to stay on the farm and we wanted to be closer to her. I have never regretted it. 
I have always been so grateful we could move our son to Canada at the young age of 13. I was never comfortable with American right wing politics and I was so thankful Larry could be surrounded with Canadian values, imperfect though they may be.

When James and I first came to this land I was raised on there was only my mother's mobile home on the ridge here and I remember us walking out in the morning to decide where we situate our house.
We chose this present location as it was far enough from my mom's for her to have her privacy and close enough to be in hollering distance. We built closer to the top of the hill but have chosen to leave the very top, where my sister and I played as children, wild.

For many years my dad pastured cattle here. For the past 20 years they have not been on this part of the hill and we see the bushes coming back and the trees: poplars like weeds on the east facing slope and evergreens which were not here when we were children.
In about 1934 a very hot forest fire burned through here so the growth was young when we were children in the 50's. Nature had to even replenish the soil and here, on the top of the hill, there is very little top soil at all. If things like clay we can supply that!

It is in the trees I see the most change in the last twenty years, and in my heart I know the many more subjective changes also.
James and I and Larry are 20 years older. Last fall my mother passed away. By that time she was in town in Swan Valley Lodge, but she had 17 more years in her home on the hill.
The flowering shrubs you see in the distance in this picture are  Mock Orange, but it is past its prime, and most of the shrubs are Ocean Spray which is just coming into full bloom (and "pollination!") 

Where James spent most of his time farming when we first came we now lease out the fields and he paints or does other artistic endeavors. Farming always did afford a winter to spend more time in the studio if it wasn't too snowy and the battle just to keep the road plowed wasn't too great.
I have built birdhouse for 16 years. In recent years I've cut back in production because of hand problems but this year my hands are doing better. 
I used to have birdhouses for sale all over the Kootenays and as far away as Calgary, and Northern Idaho, but now my "speed" is to sell them from our own McDowell's Hilltop Gallery.
My birdhouses sell for $65.00.
I'm also still busy coordinating the Creston Valley & Eastshore ArtWalk.
James sells work from the Gallery and has his work in several venues in town and has a couple shows a year. 

Tomorrow James will give a "live" painting demonstration at Black Bear Books as part of this years ArtWalk. 
And a good time was had by all.

Today James is building an easel sturdy enough to support a large panel when he's painting outside.
Who knows, some of these garden photos by James may be the seed of a new work of art.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Last weekend had us jumping

Last weekend really had us jumping with ArtWalk Openings in Creston and Riondel.
Friday night, June 18 was the Creston Opening at Amanda Miller's Coffee Creek Cafe'.
At the same time as our ArtWalk Opening Brandy Dyer's "Bite Me'' show of lovely bright fruits done in pastels was opening at Buffalo Trails just up the street. We had had such a very long spell of wet and cold weather and last Friday evening was lovely and folks had a great time walking back and forth on the street between the two shows.
I made Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake for both openings and the real, intensely chocolate "scratch cakes" were enjoyed by all.

James had hung new work at Coffee Creek and Peter Bodley entertained us with his wonderful classical guitar.

Sunday, June 20, was the Eastshore Opening at Bob's Bar & Grill in Riondel. The Riondel Art Club is again showing their work at Bob's this summer and we were entertained by East Wind, the wind section of the community band.
Riondel seems such a nice little community and we enjoy seeing the things they accomplish. The opening was well attended mostly by the ladies as the men were occupied with their annual Father's Day Golf Game.

And what would an ArtWalk Opening be without a speech? I call it "Brains on Paper" because my mind goes pretty well completely blank without the paper.
The Creston Valley & Eastshore ArtWalk runs from June 18 - Sept 6 and goes from Yahk, BC through the Creston Valley and along Kootenay Lake to Crawford Bay, Kootenay Bay, and Riondel.
Brochures listing venues and with a map of the route are available at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor's Center in Creston and at the many venues along the way.
James and I will need to be staying closer to home as  for regular gallery hours as well as for those who don't read when the hours are and arrive anyway. Today we had a brother and sister arrive and she will be taking one of my birdhouses home with her to Ottawa, Ontario.
That I should be so well traveled....

I think it's summer!

After our ever so long cold and wet spring dare we hope it's summer!
 The world is in bloom, at least ours is here on the Hilltop. The Ocean Spray which can be seen beyond the wagon is about to pop any day now. All the roses are quite pleased with themselves and coming into bloom and we are pleased with them too. These, in the foreground, are Grootendorst, which have a small blossom with frilly edges. The bush is prickly to the point of being vicious but sometimes that is what is needed to outwit the deer.

The Mock Orange grow wild on our hill, as do the Ocean spray, and we have encouraged them to stay where we want them. The Mock Orange bloom about the 20th of June every year which was my folks wedding anniversary and my mom said she had Mock Orange in her bouquet.
The spirea we have had to plant but theyu are a hardy little bush and do well here and I see where some are self seeding themselves which is only a bonus!
This was a sunny/ shady day and I took the picture of the big pink mountain of roses and the gazebo at a shady moment, it would seem. I do not know what this rose is as I came in a box with a quite different picture of a little red splashed with white picotee hybrid tea on it. Obviously this is not that rose! It is gradually taking over the front garden and I love it so much I will just move the things it overshadows. I see my peony peeking out from it's branches. It probably needs to be moved.

 Here is the pink rose from another angle. I still would like to wrest the garden back from the grass to some extent but my grandmother's garden was one of pretty flowers among the grass and I see how that can happen.

This last red rose is a Winnipeg Parks.
The Canadian Department of Agriculture maintained a research station in Morden, MB where they developed the many Hardy Explorer and Parkland roses.
This rose blooms most prolifically in early summer but will rebloom. I try to be sure to leave lots of spent blossoms on as it has such lovely rose hips which we enjoy for the show as they slowly disappear with the deer all winter.
My red Weigela is in full bloom. Usually the Bishops Cape is in bloom at the same time with it's lacy bunches of tiny flowers and variegated leaves but it has been set back by James' filling in the pond. We were just discussing that it is finally dry enough to consider  bringing the tractor up to level things again.


Monday, June 14, 2010

ArtWalk Openings, PaintOuts,memorials, and more

Well, it is a mystery why sometimes this program wants to underline everything and then, for some unknown reason it decides to quit.
This has been a very busy month. Next are the ArtWalk Openings.
The Creston Opening is this Friday, June 18 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at the Coffee Creek Cafe in Creston with light refreshments and with classical guitar by Peter Bodley.
The Eastshore Opening is Sunday, June 20, from 2:00 - 4:00 pm at Bob's Bar & Grill in Riondel, again with refreshments, and with music by the East Winds. 
Last Saturday was our annual Spring PaintOut and it was the first truly hot and sunny day we've had. We gave the new gazebo a real work out. At one point there were 13 or 14 of us inside eating lunch with folks spilling out onto the lawn. It was a great time, very well attended with at least 20 people and several of our artist friends have come back the last few mornings to continue on their works.
This poppy painting is James accomplishment from that day and the next.

The gazebo is well on its way to being done. It still needs roofing and some paint and plantings and ...... it doesn't end, but we are sure to enjoy it. Because it has the little cupola the hot air rises and escapes and it stays cool and breezy. 
We're so glad Ann didn't want it any more.
James numbered all the parts and resurrected it here and it has a new roof of 
1 x 5 cedar in a quilty pattern.

 A week ago we held a time of remembrance for my mom in the pavilion and gardens behind Morris Flowers Garden Center. 
Last fall, when she passed on, we were not ready for another service having just lost a close friends mother, father, and aunt so we said "In the spring, when the flowers are blooming."
In between we lost another close friend's mom and a very dear auntie. It is a time of losses and we are becoming the "older generation."
The tea for our mother was just lovely, very informal with lots of folks visiting and our cousin Jean had made my sister and I each a memory book of pictures of our mom's life starting in early childhood and we were able to bring those along for folks to enjoy also.
My sister and her husband and all my mother's grandchildren and her future grand daughter-in-law were able to come.
The last picture here is of my mom as a little girl.
After this weekend I've an art show to put up in the library for ArtWalk and then I can get back to blithering softly in my own garden.
The wonderful news ... there's a wedding next summer!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mothers Day 2010

Yesterday was Mother's Day and the first Mother's Day without my mother.
For years we had spent Mothers Day making it special for my mother and entertaining her, especially since my husband I moved back here after my father's death in 1989, and there were times I longed to just let me be the mother and be made "special" by my family. Well, now I am the mother. It is a bitter sweet achievement.
James and I went out for dinner Saturday night. We are a very small family as it is just us with our son living far away. We enjoyed sharing a meal at the Broaster House : the old people portion - one meal, 2 plates. My mother would have loved it.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Oh my, oh my, how the time does fly!

Sometimes one finds the greatest "junk." This little birdhouse is looking for a bluebird or swallow to set up housekeeping.
The gazebo project continues as well as planning for flower beds. As you see the rafters are up. This is  a challenging project as nothing is as straight as it should be. The cats think it is a jungle gym but may not be as enthused when James puts up screen.
More little tomatoes have found a home in the greenhouse.
I have a flat of petunias and pansies waiting for me to plant them out, and it will happen.
I went to a friend's funeral this morning. I did not know her well but knew her from all the coffee shops and places round where we would see each other.
Her name was Paule Falardeau and cancer caught her at far too young an age - 52. Paule had a hard life but was always cheerful. She came here from Quebec and began work tree planting and then worked at nearly every restaurant in town, but she wanted to work at the grocery store so she went back to school and finished her grade 12 and got the job she really wanted.
When she became ill she went back to Quebec and her family cared for her until the end but her ashes will rest hear by her son who was taken tragically at a very young age. Her family all came for the funeral. To them it was a closure here in this valley she loved but to us it was a closure too to be able to tell them we cared.
The was an Art Quilters meeting this afternoon but after the funeral I was exhausted so have come home and puttered and dug a bit in the yard.
I walked up on the hill yesterday and everything continues to bloom early this year even with the chilly weather we have had. The wild hyacinths are about to open. Usually they would bloom at the other end of May. 
Work on ArtWalk continues.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Where did the springtime go?

Spring seems to have suffered a set back. We had a wicked wind and rain storm blow through yesterday. We were fortunate not to have damage.
I had to run out in the middle of it to turn the bird feeder so the wind didn't tear the lid off.
I see on Facebook a friend was greeted by a downed tree at her gate as she went home last night.
James had actually bolted the rafters to the uprights of the gazebo but they weren't secure and given the weather warning, thankfully he went out and took them down. There will be another day to work on the gazebo. 
We caught Skeeter perched on top of one of the gazebo uprights the other day. She surely is a little monkey.
The second picture is of my cousins and James pretending to have a tea party in the gazebo. Note the parkas and hoods and cups firmly grasped so they don't blow away.
James does not lack things to keep him busy. He is doing finishing touches on the Creston Arts Council's faces project from a couple years back. The 4' x 8' panels have been cut down to a more manageable size and he has been framing each and then "the powers that be" can find them homes. Whew! Finished with that!
I am sincerely wishing for some weather warm enough to go out and knock a little order into the yard.
Preparation for ArtWalk continues.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Further progress

I don't understand this blog. It doesn't let me write where I choose. 
Nevertheless ....
Progress continues on the gazebo between rain showers. There is fresh snow on the mountains but that is better than Calgary's snow.
I met today with Harry Miller who is doing a lot of the work on ArtWalk this year. It always helps to sit down and spread everything out on the table and see where we are. We have some work these next 2 weeks but we'll get it done and off the Brandy at Imagine Ink where she will apply her magic to the brochure.
June 5 my sister and I will host a tea celebrating our mother's life (she passed away last Oct 10) and we are holding it in the pavilion and the gardens behind Morris Flowers Greenhouse. I haven't a clue how many will come but if we keep it simple it will be easy enough and "expandable" for more or less.
May will be a very busy month.

Going off madly in all directions

We have a friend who had a lovely old fashioned gazebo in her too small front yard so James numbered it, dismantled it, brought it home, and piled it in our yard.
Now James gets to put his puzzle back together.
These pictures are from the first day here.
We are putting the gazebo just to the NE of the house where it won't block views from the house. It is a 12 foot octagon so, once screened, it should give us lots of room to enjoy the days without wasps and evenings without mosquitoes.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The day of reckoning

Well, I don't know if this new system is any kind of improvement. 
The day finally came when we had pulled as much old plastic and tarps and water bed liners and old blankets used to cushion things out of the pond as we could.
James took 160 kgs to the dump and that did not include the hay tarp we thought we could repurpose, then came the "tractoring." I don't think James heard any audible sobs as thyme and lovely rocks and you name it went into the hole.
It filled up faster than we'd hoped.

There is a feeling of "lightness" in not having to worry about dogs or small boys in the pond. We will soon have seating and the plants will be restored.
Bandy was not worried at all about the bashing and grundging but I finally tricked him into the house as he was just too very trusting.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It is a long sad story

Once upon a time I had a lovely garden pond and flowers bloomed and little birds took showers in the water dripping down the rocks but then those naughty little deer walked into it and their little pointy hooves made little holes in the liner and it never was the same again.
So now, for numbers of years we have had this unsightly black hole which we have to explain "used to be a pond" but we never seem to come up with the sizable sum it would cost to line it with proper EPDM liner that the deer could not puncture. And we do love our deer.We put water out for the momma who brings her babies to drink and we are thankful to give them a safe place not out in the fields with the harvesting.
We finally decided we are never going to line that ugly hole so today James poked holes in the bottom of the liner so the last of the water could drain away and we rolled the rocks off the edges of the liner and tomorrow James will come with the tractor and yard the liner out and we'll take all the assorted foam we had as cushioning to the dump and fill in the hole.
 This is what remains and once it is gone we will fill in the hole and make a level seating area in the yard so the legs on people's lawn chairs are less likely to buckle and send them rolling down the hill. I am looking forward to having flower beds I can get at from both sides
And another sad story:
The "stemmy" plant in the middle is my Japanese Knot Weed in it's dead late winter phase. It dies to the ground every year and through most of the winter hangs on to it's beautiful dried burnt sienna coloured leaves. Every summer it grows to be a wonderful 6 foot bush with large green leaves and little white flowers.
Now, sadly, "they" are listing it as a noxious weed so it goes too, sniff. I'll have such a nice open space to create in!
And so goes the battle ......

Monday, April 05, 2010

Birdhouses are us ........ 2, which of course will precede #1.

                                                                 Birdhouse #4

                                                             Birdhouse #5

                                                                      Birdhouse #6