Monday, May 25, 2009

Exciting Sightings

After nearly 20 years at the cottage without seeing a single moose, this spring has brought two sightings in two consecutive weekends and I am in moose heaven.

Last weekend, my sister, her husband, my niece and her husband came for dinner. I was sitting at the end of the table facing the driveway. Just as we were finishing our meal, I looked up to see a moose running down the road past the end of our driveway.

We raced from the table and arrived outside to see a very confused young moose trotting down the road, being herded by someone in a small silver SUV.
Not sure why they thought this was a good idea, but after a brief conversation, we learned that the youngster had come onto the road near the portage between our lake and the one across the road, which was in the opposite direction to which he was moving. (After looking at as many pictures as I could find, I think it was a young male, about a year old.)

We managed to get him turned around and headed back the way he came from. And also managed to get him on a side road off the main one, which made me relax a bit. We decided to head back to the cottage and leave him alone. After all, it was the Victoria Day weekend and between too many people, cars and fireworks, I'm sure this little guy was totally freaked out. We left him in the woods, hoping he would not return to the road.

(This picture is not our moose - in fact, I believe this is an older female, but her coat is about the same as the young one we saw, and I loved this picture, which I'm sure will be reference for future projects.)

I swear there were a couple of times I could have reached out and touched him. He was about the same height as me and have a very scraggly greyish coat with very long hair around the withers and head (another reason why I think he was a young one). It was very exciting indeed!!

Then this past Friday night, as we were heading in from the highway, Rick saw another moose in the woods. It turned out to be a much-older male with a medium rack of antlers. We stopped the car to stare at him. He stopped and stared at us. We both held positions for a good 3 minutes and then we headed off slowly so as not to frighten him. Again, he was much too close to the road for my liking. I think the black flies are particularly bad this year and we've been told the bugs drive them out of the woods, which unfortunately often puts them in danger.

Both sighting were at about 9:30 at night, which according to my research is when they are active. That is also when the bugs are active, so it makes sense that they come out of the woods at that time to escape.

As exciting as both these sightings wee, it makes me wish they would stay deep in the woods and be safe. But they were both magnificent animals and have been an inspiration for my next piece, which I have already designed.

This blog is not called the rugged moose for no good reason.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Amazing Artist Says "YES"

This is the latest “Jeanius Bag” front that I have just hooked for my lifelong pal Gaye. She sent me a clipping from a magazine that featured a painting by an artist named “Jennifer Mack” who lives in Calgary and does incredible paintings of horses, mostly mustangs. She wondered if it would be a good design for a bag and without question, it was.

But, as I told Gaye, I needed permission from the artist before I could proceed. Since the ad also contained the URL for her website, it was very easy for me to find her. To my delight, Jennifer responded to my request in less than 24 hours, not only saying yes, but telling me that she was a textile artist in art college and really only started painting after graduation. She is keen to see what I do, so I will be sending her an email later today to show her progress.

The original piece is very large – 48 x 60, so my little 7 x 9 purse flap had to squeeze a fair amount of detail into a tiny space. Please go and see her website so that you can enjoy the real deal.

This makes 3 for 3 “Yes” replies from artists whom I have approached for permission to adapt their work. It never ceases to amaze me the willingness in the artistic community to allow others to be inspired.

I think my friend Gaye is going to be more than thrilled with her bag. And I hope that Jennifer will feel that I have done her proud.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My version of The Artful Hooker.

I finished whipping this mat on the weekend - my little indulgence for Mothers' Day. And I am very pleased with the final result.

I sent a note to Deanne to show her the mat finished. I think it's the perfect combination of the two of us. Her pattern and her words. Me hooking my cottage. And I am wearing the "little blue coat" that she admired so much when I was there.

The words really are inspirational and I look forward to hanging this rug in my studio space as a constant reminder to stay inspired. And as a tribute to a fantastic experience I had with a wonderful group of people - led by a truly gifted hooker.

A Better Week for Brother Bill

An update on brother Bill is that he continues to improve, and although there is still some concern about internal bleeding, so far tests are all coming back normal, which may mean it is a by-product of the heart attack.

Hopefully, he will be travelling back to Fredericton from Saint John today, which means he will be closer to his friends and support network - not that they hesitated to make the trip to see him in hospital there. They continue to be incredible!

Sister (and most-time matriarch) Nancy is back here in Oakville, and monitoring things via long distance. She is planning another trip to see him later in the month, by which time we hope he will be home and recuperating.

A big WHEW from all of us here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Family Matters

This past week has been one that has galvanized my siblings - because one of us is in trouble.

My oldest brother Bill, second from the left in the black and white picture (taken in about 1954) and standing next to me in the colour picture (taken last fall) had a heart attack on Wednesday.

He is the only sibling still living in New Brunswick. The other 4 are all within an hour's distance of Toronto and we can get together as often as we like. In point of fact, we don't do that as often as we should, but there is comfort in knowing that we can.

Brother Bill comes every couple of years for either a week in the summer or Christmas vacation - on rare occasion, both. We are in touch with him on a regular basis, but at the end of the day, he is a thousand miles away.

He is the third male in our family to have a heart attack. My dad died from his just days after his 60th birthday. My other brother Peter had one at age 53. Peter was able to get to hospital at the first symptoms and they reversed all signs of it within hours of his arrival in ER.

Bill has not been so lucky. The week has been filled with ups and downs - with a couple of miracles thrown in for good measures. Luckily, he had his heart attack while at work, so a series of good things, involving a volunteer firefighter administering CPR, a doctor upstairs in his building, and the ambulance arriving in under 10 minutes all got him to the hospital. But, the ride has been bumpy with many unknowns and surprises along the way. And they are still coming.

He is still in a precarious place and we are going from hour to hour, day to day watching and waiting for updates from our sister Nancy who flew to be with him on the day of the attack.

It's a horrible thing to be this far away and unable to be other than a spectator as this all unfolds. But we feel that going there en masse would only send worrying signals to him, since we don't often go there when he is well. But the silbing hot line is in place - Nancy calls one of us and the rest pass the news along. It's becoming the rhythm of the days - and nights.

I hardly knew my brother Bill growing up, since 8 years is a big difference, and he was mostly away at school by the time I would come to know him. But as an adult, I have come to know that he is an amazing person who has a support system that we would all envy.

His peers from work, his friends and even those who aren't that close to him have rallied to cheer him on, visit him and be there for him, even if he's not totally aware that they are there. And I envy them the proximity to be able to do that.

I dearly love all my siblings. We lost our parents very early and it created a stronger bond among us. But, like most, we probably don't tell one another how we feel nearly often enough. And I only hope that Bill contiues to improve to the point that I have an opportunity to do so.

It's been a very reflective Mothers' Day for me. Luckily, both my kids were able to be with me. My ma-in-law was also here and she is an amazing woman who has truly been the best mother figure in my life since I lost my own. But the precarious nature of the week reminds me again that we must continue to tell the people around us how much we care. How special they are to us.

Because when all is said and done family matters more than anything. And that doesn't mean just mean blood relatives, but those we love like family too.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sheer Jeanius - Again!

These are pictures from the Jeanius Bag Workshop that I taught this weekend at Karen Kaiser's amazing home in Belleville.

Karen's home is on an incredible farm, which we walked after dinner both nights. We hooked in her four-seasons sun room, with a view of her pond and the wildlife who visited there.

Once again, the bags are as different as the hookers who created them. As you can see, the subject matter ran the gamut. And each and every bag turned out beautifully. Kudos to Joan, Liz, Janis, Kerry, Jackie and Lee.

The group was mostly commuters who live within an hour of Karen's. Only one of the students. who came from Guelph, and myself had "sleepovers". Many in the group are fiber artists who spin and knit and weave and hook, and it was fun to hear about their backgrounds and how they came to hooking.

The cat bag (pictured by itself) was created by Jackie, who is wearing it in the non-group shot. She was unable to come on Sunday as she was doing her M.O.B. (mother-of-the-bride) duties at a shower. But, she put the pedal to the metal and got her bag done in the nick of time on Saturday. (Hope the shower was fun, Jackie.)

The large bag in the upper right hand corner was actually hooked by our 'hostess with the mostest'. She had done a 'hooking with pantyhose' workshop and turned her mat into a bag over the weekend. (It's the perfect size for a laptop.)

The group shot shows the students (plus Karen) with their bags. Liz, second from the right, is actually holding my bag with the proddy flower, since she left her finished one at home. However, Liz is my testament to just how addictive these bags can be. She is making 13 of them for a party in September (don't you wish you were a guest at that party!)

I enjoyed meeting Karen's husband Kurt, who worked outside the whole time we were there, stopping only for meals. I also loved meeting Woody, Karen's Bouvier/English Sheepdog cross, who serves as doorbell and escort on walks around the farm.

All in all it was another fabulous workshop. The students, the projects, the food - everything was fantastic.

Thanks everyone for making it great. You are all now official "Jeaniuses". I hope you get tons of compliments on these bags and the many you will create in the future.

Knitting in Paradise

Every year when we come to Barbados, I pack a knitting project or two. Usually socks to knit on the plane and something to take to the ...