Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Time And Space

Ah, the big night is upon us. That single evening, once a year, when the clock hands meet at twelve. That one night that we've grown to believe holds the power to change our lives. Some of us set out to make positive changes in the form of resolutions. Resolving to forgo bad habits and embrace good habits.

The most profitable month for new gym memberships is January due in no small part to all those new resolutions. And the best part, for the gym, is that ninety percent of those signing up for memberships will never show up - ever. The other ten percent will train in fits and starts and fade after about two or three weeks. It's very rare to ever see a January sign-up stick it out.
When I worked at a gym part of my job was to take those individuals, that walk in off the street, and sell them a membership. So my advice to those of you planning on a gym membership, as a resolution, is to wait until February to sign up. Not only will you get a better price but you're already beating the attendance odds.
In keeping with the mystery of time and space my pic today is of Stonehenge. Definitely on my list of things to experience before I die.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

BFF...No Really

Just ask any person that shares their life with a canine companion and they will surely refer to an almost psychic-like link that they enjoy. Man and dog have cohabited for thousands of years and science has now proven that the evolution of the domestic dog has been shaped in part by their interaction with man.

A day doesn't pass that I'm not amazed by the relationship I have with 'the Goose', my English Bull Terrier, my Bully. He arrived on the scene in the spring of 1998 as a puppy. And from day one he was my pal, my sidekick. He drew attention wherever we went which conveniently went hand in hand with his penchant for being an attention junkie.

In the earliest days, when I could still scoop him up in one hand, he travelled in an open book sack worn on my back. The same sack I used to haul my art supplies around campus years earlier. As he grew larger he would ride shotgun in the cab of my old restored pickup. Sometimes while wearing a pair of my Rayban sunglasses. Always a crowd pleaser at red lights or at the drive-through window.

I like to refer to Goose as my million dollar dog. Simply put that's the figure that he's worth to me. Sounds crazy, I know. But if you think about it we all have something in our lives that's bigger than money. And if you don't, why are you here?

Here's a pic of Goose at around four months old.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Last Leg

Christmas is now only a few days away and it's about this time every year that I'm reminded of my first experience with an extraordinary act of selflessness. It's been twenty nine years and I still can't fully explain it.

The year was 1979 just days before Christmas and I was en route from Oakland California where I had been living and was now travelling via bus to Toronto. I was a teen aged student living by my wits and trying to get home for the holidays. I started out from California on a Wednesday afternoon and was scheduled to arrive at Toronto's Union Station on the following Saturday night.

The trip was an adventure but took its toll physically and mentally due to the fact that I had been trying to sleep sitting upright for several days and had no access to a shower. My money and food ran out by Saturday morning which wasn't a problem that was insurmountable since I would be rolling into Toronto within ten more hours.

We pulled into the Detroit terminal at around 6:30 a.m. Saturday where I was supposed to change buses for the last leg of my trip across the border into Canada and ultimately Toronto. No problem until I got to the counter of the bus line and was told my connecting bus was about a twenty minute drive away in a different terminal and it left in forty five minutes. I was stunned. I couldn't think clearly. And I was broke.

Once I explained my dilemma the young guy behind the counter pointed out the window and said "those people are going to the same terminal...ask them for a ride". Through the window I saw a couple hurriedly arranging their luggage in the trunk of a cab. I legged it outside and approached the couple all the while blurting out my situation and requesting a lift. Not surprisingly they shut the door in my face and drove off.

I re-entered the now desolate terminal almost resigned to my fate which in all honesty wasn't looking good. In addition to my teetering situation I had drawn the attention of three gang members. They had been shadowing me while eyeing my travel gear. Now after living in Oakland I recognized the routine well...I was being sized up. I had enough street smarts to bluff for a while but I was cornered and I knew it. I was definitely prey. At the very least I was going to lose my case and my wallet and it was going to happen any minute. The sense of dread was overwhelming.

Suddenly the same young guy re-appeared, very animated this time, and said there was another cab and to hurry I didn't have a lot of time. He physically grabbed my arm and led me out the door of the terminal. Struggling with my case I started to lag behind as he then ran ahead of me to talk to the driver of the cab.

Everything now began to go very fast. Faster than I could respond. The driver quickly got out and met me halfway. He took my case and heaved it into the trunk. He also relayed that I only had a few minutes and to "hurry up and get in". And get in I did. I was relieved to be extricated from the situation inside the terminal. The driver took off like he himself had a bus to catch.

I began to stammer that I didn't have any money to pay for the fare. When the driver didn't respond I figured he hadn't heard me because of the thick plate glass between the front and back seat. So I leaned down to the cash slot and repeated that I didn't have any money. The driver half looked over his shoulder and bellowed "your friend paid your fare" then directed his focus back to the road ahead.

It took a second for me to realize he was talking about the young guy from the terminal. I twisted in my seat but saw only empty sidewalk behind us. I slumped back as it all sank in.

Without any explanation he had pulled me from a bleak situation in the terminal, placed me into a paid cab and then disappeared. He might have very well saved my life. And not only did I not thank him but I was ashamed to realize that I had barely paid attention to what he looked like.

Suddenly I was no longer tired or hungry. My mind instantly felt the sickening weight of what had just happened and what could have happened. And that's pretty well the way the rest of the journey went. I tried to make sense of it all but it was beyond my life experience repertoire. And I've never experienced anything like it since.

Every year at this time my thoughts are with that person. I hope that he is safe and healthy. And if I could have my way I'd simply like to be able to say thank you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Foot In Cold Water

Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down by routine. You know when life seems to get in the way of...well, life. I guess it happens to the best of us and then again maybe it's just that time of year.

Usually the last thing I do each night is jot down what needs to be done the following day...basically my to do list. And quite honestly I have a tendency to be a little over-ambitious in my planning.

More often than not I run out of day well before I run out of to do's. Not only can it get frustrating but it can become downright paralyzing if you dwell on it.

So while laboring to clear our drive from today's massive snowfall I did some mental rummaging to help pass the time - sounds so much better than daydreaming. And while sorting through old thoughts I found this forgotten gem languishing in a dark recess...just behind some old Foot In Cold Water lyrics.


"Focus not on where you are but on where you want to go..."


Sounds beautifully simple and the perfect first entry on tomorrows to do list.

My pic today is an old post mounted bird feeder that has been partially enveloped by the smallest of our white pines.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chairs

The more often you look at something, the less you really see it. Often we take visual cues for granted.

Call it what you like but I believe that thought patterns are like water, they follow the path of least resistance towards an answer. And then when they find an answer they settle. Rarely do they seek a second answer. It wouldn't be practical.

But I also believe that new answers and sometimes even better answers lie just beyond the unfamiliar route or the unconventional path.

Looking and seeing are two very different things. Seeing is a skill that is developed and polished throughout ones life. I also believe that seeing is affected directly by ones attitude and perspective.

Remember back to a scene in Dead Poets Society where Robin William's character had asked all of his students to stand on their chairs?...absolutely brilliant.

Today I have a pic of a cedar rail that I had liberated from what the garden center called the burn pile...basically scrap and broken pieces that are of no profitable use. If you look close enough you can read its life story. It now stands inside one of our garden beds.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fade To White

Though I am supposed to be working on various projects my mind is wandering and I find myself thinking of my love hate relationship with the snow.

Just when our summer garden gets up to speed the seasons change and once again I am forced to watch it wither as the colder nights of autumn bully their way into our lives. As sobering as it is to be reminded of how little control we have I still dread it every year.

But it's simply the cycle of life. It's a reaction to the lower temps that herald in the oncoming snow that will soon blanket the garden and drape the trees.

Burying our drive and blocking in our vehicles. Challenging my patience and my back. Yes, it's very easy to resent the snow.

Until I look at it from a different perspective...a different window. The heavy blanket of snow also protects the dormant root systems from freezing winds. It keeps insect pests in check by breaking their life cycle. The melt provides much needed water to the waking plants in spring by topping up the water table. And it really can look beautiful under a full moon.

Which window do you see it from? In scriptwriting the writer has various scene transition tools at their disposal. Fade To White is what comes to mind today and I think it's a fitting title for this post.

Today I'm showing a pic of one of the many birdhouses and feeders in our yard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Viva La Diva !

So the news is good. The Diva has been awarded Second Place for Best Family Blog in the Canadian Blog Awards. That's the whole of Canada people...sea to shining sea. It's right up there with the double-double, Timbits and such Canadian linguistic pearls as...eh?

For those not familiar with the Diva or to read what the buzz is all about it's as easy as clicking on DonMillsDiva.

Thanks goes out to everyone that took the time to vote. You have used your collective keyboards wisely grasshopper(s).

Congrats Kelly, well done...

...Viva la Diva!

Todays pic shows one of my earliest rock carvings. It now resides in a clients garden...blocking a hole or something broken or...okay I don't really know. Looks happy enough though.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Size 10

When I was a kid I wanted a flying squirrel as a pet. Not just a regular squirrel but a flying squirrel. That is until I found out they don't really fly...they only glide. There is something cool about flying. Remember the Flying Toaster screen saver? ...cool, okay maybe not so much now. How about the flying monkeys on the Wizard Of Oz? ...still freaky years later.

I have always had an interest in flying. A fork in the road of my life journey almost saw me go to Helicopter School in Florida. A path not taken that I daydream about from time to time. Actually pretty well every time I see a helicopter. It's a good daydream.


But I've never considered flying shoes as very interesting. Obviously I'm missing something. But I thought to myself maybe I need to think outside of the shoebox on this one. So for my pic today I'm showing the world the shoes I wore last night to a Christmas concert at a local theatre. Now they don't fly but they have logged dozens of miles on the ground. They are broken in quite nicely thank you and I still like to keep them polished. By the way mine are size 10 as well. So if a pair of old shoes can make it onto CNN why not my boots onto a simple blog? Plus I'm sure I saw a wad of gum stuck to the sole of that other guys.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Maniacal

Since discovering the almost endless creative possibilities that are available with cement and concrete I've been hooked. If I had to point out any limitations it would probably relate more to the working conditions necessary for a good outcome. That would be temperature and humidity of your location. Being located in Canada does present some problems due to the small window of opportunity that I can work effectively outdoors.

But like evolution itself we adapt. And since my global weather controlling machine is still several maniacal years away from completion I've instead directed my focus to altered recipes for cement and concrete. Recipes that play well with others, in this case our generally crappy weather. My favorite mix results in a very plastic clay-like cement.

In my pic today I have a few planters created with just such a mix. They are large organic shapes designed to be partially buried into a garden bed. These particular ones have been finished in blue granite and more than once been mistaken for actual hollowed rock. Now if I could just perfect my weather machine.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stone Eggs

Looking for a cheap Eco friendly alternative to the standard Christmas wrapping paper? Why not print your own? The waste we produce from polished wrapping paper makes me cringe. It can't be recycled not to mention it's used only once and then only for a few days. To be so wasteful would be considered insane at any other time of the year.

I'm always looking for ways to segway into block printing and had an idea for this wrapping alternative. Great project for the little ones as well...supervised of course. Why not block print on sheets of newsprint paper and create your own original wrapping paper? The sheets are forty pieces to a 24 x 18 inch pad and cost around a dollar and a half for the whole pad. Check your local art supply...I buy them in bulk from Curry's.


Make your own stamping blocks from potato halves...another artsy session with the kiddies. Not to mention the chance for them to experiment with some personal expression and find an identity within the family hierarchy. Sorry, first year Psychology flashback. For those of you unfamiliar with potato stamping, a design is carved into the flat face of the potato to create a stamp surface. Try Google for ideas on potato stamping. The whole clan could get involved in this one. Let your budding Picasso(s) go wild.


So there you go. You can now pull all of your children out of school, set them up in the garage and your new cottage industry business will be born. Just think of the cost savings. No more lunch money, school uniforms or books. Plus if they are really young they'll work for macaroni and cheese. Mix in some sliced wieners as an added incentive on the days you want them to work in excess of twelve hours.


Once Christmas is over the paper can be recycled (depending on the ink you use) and the discarded potato stamps can be introduced to the composter, fed to your pet Iguana or launched at passing traffic from a Spud Gun. It's win win all around.

Today's pic shows a stone Hosta leaf waiting to be discovered under a genuine Hosta leaf. The three stone eggs add a touch of interest.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Skelton's People

Early one Saturday morning, around November 1969, I would make my way in to watch my Father as he gets ready to leave for the day. He's just finished putting on a crisp white shirt. A tie is draped around his neck as he adjusts his collar. I'm just in time to watch him fling and twist the necktie into submission. Within seconds he's cinched the perfect knot. The precision and grace registers for the first time in my young mind.


I begged him to teach me this slight of hand. Looking mildly amused and maybe just a little impressed he was surely having flashes of me stepping up to the corporate ladder whereas I was thinking how cool this would look performed for my friends. It was right up there with Michael being able to blow soda out of his nose or Gordon's folding eyelid trick.


Without missing a beat my Father took an older tie from his closet. And after a brief demo from the master himself I stumbled through my first attempt and then a second. Another demo and a bit of fine tuning and I think I had it. Okay maybe not but it was going in the right direction. My Father gathered his wallet and pocket change from the dresser as he watched me with a smile. "Keep it" he said. "Practice and show me when I get home". And off he went.


I practiced in front of the mirror for hours...like a magician polishing his opening hook. This was great. Such speed and dexterity. I actually looked like I knew what I was doing. I was a genius. I half expected a call from Red Skelton's people. Once they got wind of this kid from Toronto with the amazing necktie schtick surely they would want me on the show.


Well the call never came but I still perfected my act. My Father was duly impressed and had let me now start his necktie on more than one occasion. And for Christmas that year my Father included a necktie as a gift for me. But the real gift had already been given. The necktie is long gone but those few simple minutes he spent with me are still one of my fondest flashbacks.


My pic today is a example of placed stonework from another Japanese garden. It's one that takes your eyes on a journey as they follow the simple path looking for that next amazing discovery just around the bend.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Far From Branson

It's been many years since I've had a proper vacation. My lifestyle is such that I never really felt the urgency to plan a scheduled getaway. I'm very fortunate in that I really enjoy what I do. I work outdoors for a good portion of the year on landscape projects and home improvement, or I should say landscape improvement. And when the weather gets unruly or the seasons change I move indoors to work on smaller projects. The rock sculpts I've shown in earlier posts are a good example.

And now with a working shop / studio coming together, as part of our home improvement grand plan, I'll soon be able to expand my efforts even further. But I do sometimes find that my mind will wander recalling fond memories of vacations past. One example would be from today's pic. This was actually a working vacation but it was a great experience nonetheless.


I took this pic while exploring the twenty-five acre Japanese Gardens located in Springfield Missouri not far from Branson Missouri for all of you Country music lovers. I had attended a workshop in Springfield a few years back and each day following our session I would visit another place of interest. The Japanese Garden was on my last day and I think I was the only person there aside from the gate attendant. By the way the people of Springfield were probably some of the nicest I have ever met in my life.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Earth Bones

Boulders and rock have always had a deep connection to our lives. First used as material for tools, weapons and even shelter. And when plots of land began to be worked...boulders, now considered a nuisance, had to be dug up but still found use as building material for walls, wells and foundations. But beyond all the practicalities what is it about rock that is so mesmerising?


We are drawn to its coolness on a hot summer day. Animals look for its warmth on a cold day. And plants growing near by will thrive.


I have always been fascinated with rock. Looking at its scars and gouges I can only imagine the secrets it holds. The events it has been witness to as hundreds of millions of years have washed over its surface. The places it's been as it has settled into the earth and been spit out over and over again. The mountains it has ridden and the lakes it has plumbed. The life it has played host to and the fossils it now hides. They are truly earth bones. Is my Pagan showing?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Expletives Would Fly

As I sort through the top shelf of my fridge I discover tucked into a back corner one of my fave hot weather bevies. Four dark cans of liquid gold. Mined in Dublin Ireland by Guinness & Co. and squirreled away months ago in anticipation of a visit from my friend Rob. Now Rob and I met a handful of years back while I was buying and selling trees, boulders and such for various landscape projects. He is easily the most knowledgeable person I know in the area of horticulture.
The friendship was an easy one and soon Rob began to drop by whenever he was passing through. I would be working somewhere in the backyard and could hear him as he struggled blindly with our impossible gate latch all the while cursing unabashedly. The expletives would fly from his mouth like clay pigeons on a target range. The early days would leave me cringing but I've come to realize it's all part of the package.

Our visits are truly a laugh. But the ritual really begins after we both have sat with our perfectly chilled glasses brimming with the foamy brew. Now if I had to count I probably drink only about a half dozen beer all summer and I could easily drink more and at anytime but it's in combination with the visit that makes this particular beer so memorable.
It's like watching a scheduled movie on television even though you have the same film on DVD. That's how it is when Rob shows up. I never think twice about dropping my work to indulge in his company.

This pic shows the view going into our garden gate. The trumpet vine actually originates from next door but provides a great show for Jewel and I every year. It's not unusual to see a local Hummingbird flitting about but I've yet to capture it on camera.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This 'Intel' Could Be Tainted

It's hard to believe but rumour has it as we speak...or as I write and you read some of the naysayers are cobbling a makeshift covert coalition of sorts to circumvent, hijack and downright bamboozle DonMillsDiva.blogspot.com from moving to number one. Back room shenanigans, meeting in dark corners, hushed voices...wait a sec, that sounds like a teenagers first party...okay, this 'Intel' could be tainted but...

...this just in, let's hope these satellite photos are wrong but since the ante has been upped, the rate of melt from the Polar Ice Cap has increased exponentially. More melt can only spell trouble...rising water levels and...well I'm not sure but Al Gore always seems pretty stoked about it.

We need to address this scenario head on - and there is only one blog up to the task. Cast your vote now, call your friends, call your enemies and make up with them...then ask them to vote for DonMillsDiva.blogspot.com as the Best Family blog. It's as easy as a few clicks away and before you can say .."hey! my basement is flooded"...DonMillsDiva.blogspot.com will be required reading for anyone sentenced to house arrest. You have the power.

My pic today is a 'coalition' (there's that word again) of mushrooms that reside in the old mushroom archive. These are one-offs, experiments etc. that now live happily in our garden.

Make sure you check out my Poll at the top of the page. The results are sure to be monitored by those campaigning for positions of power. If in four years Sarah Palin promises everyone a Woolly Monkey...well let's just say you read it here first. And keep in mind that if I hit 100 votes I'm going out for pizza...I'm just saying.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dented Headbone

I've never been known for having a thin skin. Especially when it comes to constructive criticism of my work. I can't remember ever being overly sensitive but I really think it was in my artsy college years that the die was cast. After several semesters of class critique sessions - 'formal trashing of ones work by the instructor' - I had unwittingly developed the hide of a Rhino. Not always a good thing when dealing with the real world. I don't mind an honest opinion in fact I welcome it and in return I get to be just as honest. And that's where the trouble starts. Jewel once told me I can be a little 'too' honest. So I find myself modifying some old habits...two steps forward one step back so to speak.

And the flip side to this thick skin is that I rarely develop attachments to any of my work. I have sold pieces within days of finishing them without a second thought. But regret is finally beginning to bubble up from deep inside my dented head bone. Case in point would be the carved rocks pictured here. Both sold within days of being finished. And both I regret not keeping.

So what's the answer? I would first have to isolate the question and that would be do I want to be a working artisan that sells regularly or do I want to be surrounded by my art? It's a bigger dilemma than you might think. To be surrounded by your own work provides a very fertile environment to create yet more work but the whole point of the exercise is to develop streams of income...a.k.a. selling my work. But I believe I have found the elusive middle ground.

It's in it's earliest stages mind you but I will showcase it here in the New Year so I hope you will follow along and send me your thoughts, comments, rants and recipes - I like chili.

And if you haven't gone to DonMillsDiva.blogspot.com to cast your vote please do it now. It will only take about fourteen seconds out of your life (I timed it) and you could be saving the planet...swear to god dude...see yesterdays post if you don't believe me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Whales Will Thank You

Today I'm sending out the word to all of you that have visited my post today, whether by accident or by design, to cast a vote. The honor up for grabs is for the Best Family Blog category within the Canadian Blog Awards. DonMillsDiva.blogspot.com has moved up quickly to one of the top five positions but now needs your help to push it to number one.

It's an absolutely great read. And doing so for just five minutes everyday, once before breakfast and once again just before you visit noddyland, is surely to at the very least make you smarter, funnier, wealthier, taller and a better dancer. But don't take my word for it just look at what some past readers had to say...



"I've been reading DonMillsDiva.blogspot.com for about thirty nine days now and my acne has completely disappeared...my family can't believe it...My doctor is astonished...it's a miracle! Thank you Don Mills Diva".


R. K . . . Brazil



"Since I've starting reading DonMillsDiva.blogspot.com our ship has definitely come in. Not only did we hit the jackpot big at Bingo last night but my husbands eye twitch has all but ceased. It's been like a tonic for our lives."


P. M. . . Dublin



"What can I say?...DonMillsDiva.blogspot.com has completely rehabilitated me. It's what keeps me going until my next parole board hearing".


Inmate #25776. . .Location Withheld




So there you have it. Zip on over to DonMillsDiva.blogspot.com and cast your vote while there's still time to save the Ozone layer. A couple of clicks and we'll be on our way to a greener planet before you know it. The whales will thank you... Adios.



Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Disjointed State

I am definitely your typical night hawk. It's not that I don't get tired - I do...but my brain can go a few more laps than my body these days. I'm up late almost every night and if I don't force myself to bed at a designated time I could find myself up still when the sun rises.

But not all is wasted. For the most part I do work during the night. In fact it's my favorite time to work. The house is asleep and everything is perfectly silent aside from the hum of my computer hard drive and the occasional nose whistle from the Goose as he dozes at my feet.
There's also something about my disjointed state...you know - exhausted body versus wired brain that makes for very rich ground imagination-wise. Thoughts and ideas are lucid and ever flowing. One mans exhaustion is another mans high...or something like that.
Today's pic is another rock carving of mine. This one has also been fitted with copper tubing so it can double as a water feature. It's designed to be hung on a wall, propped in a rock grouping or built into the bank of a pond. Very versatile.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Forget The Tree

Every year it feels like the weeks between September and December whiz by with increasing speed. I no longer need to look at my calendar I only need to check the showcase at the local big box store during my better than weekly visits. They will let me know when it's time...time to buy food for the lawn, decorations for Halloween, Christmas lights for the tree...oh and don't forget the tree. And even if I wanted to feed my lawn when more convenient or even practical there is no guarantee I will be able to find 'product' since the store in its infinite wisdom, of what's best for me, will have removed the lawn food to make way for the next big 'push'. In this case the over-sized inflatable characters and displays you would normally have to tune in to the Macy's Day Parade to see. After all nothing says warm holiday spirit like an eight foot inflatable Snow Globe, complete with blowing snow, tethered to the front lawn.
Today I wanted to post a pic of one of my favorite artists work . I never get tired of looking at pieces by Henry Moore.




Friday, November 28, 2008

Big Ole' Whatever

This is one of my rock carvings that I have turned into a wall mounted water spitter. When carving any rock you can either impose your own will and chisel away, usually done more so when the grain or the veining is what you seek to exploit as in the case of marble or soapstone, or you can follow the cues the rock is giving you. In other words to exaggerate what the rock already looks like. We've all done it. We look at a rock and think it looks like an animal or a face or a big ole' whatever.
And if you have never done it try it today with the very next rock, cloud or pile of mashed potatoes you look at. Ask yourself what does it look like? It's a great exercise for your imagination. Unfortunately it's a skill most adults lose especially in this day and age of motherboards and megapixels.
Ask any child to look at a rock and to tell you what they see. My guess is that within seconds they will rhyme off an assortment of critters real and imaginary. Something to be nurtured..."he who has imagination has wings".
In this case the rock was perfectly shaped for hanging on a wall with a great downward gaze which is what I chose to work with. After carving it was drilled and fitted with copper tubing to accept a water hook-up through the back. I can picture this mounted on an Ivy covered wall spitting into a hewn rock bowl.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Deja VooDoo

Okay this post is all about that little piece of weirdness that invades all our lives from time to time. You know when something happens that sticks in your mellon until you fall asleep and you find yourself thinking about it again when you wake up. It could be anything but the point is it is weird to you...not necessarily anyone else. Which doesn't really matter anyway since it sounds nuts when you try to explain it. I like to call it Deja VooDoo.

I've had many episodes over my lifetime and they range from odd to seriously freaky. This one is half way up the scale...somewhere around weird 'with a bullet'.

Anyways here goes, last Summer Jewel and I took a day trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton Ontario. I like to take photos of rock formations, boulder groupings and such so we made a special trip to the Rock Garden section of the park. I had my chance to take many photos and this pic above is one of the shots I took.

Now cut to a few weeks later and while searching rock photos on-line (yes I need a life) I came across this photo of a vintage post card. The shot was taken from the exact same spot that I took my shot. The plant material has changed over the years and the large sentry boulder has begun to lean with time but it is definitely the same spot. The date on the card is not visible but the blurb I had read dated it at around 1964...forty four years later and I was standing in the same shoes as this post card photographer - for just a few seconds. Not to mention the fact that I even came across this post card at all. Definitely a clear cut case of 'time travelling' Deja VooDoo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stuffing With Jelly

We all have wacky people that we know whether at work or in our 'hood. As I get older I find myself following an unclear path. Meaning my ideas are changing with age. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing as I am very open to learning and adapting and "not set in my ways" as the saying goes. But where does it all end? How different a person will I be in another twenty years from the person I was twenty years ago?

It's all very exciting actually...this new freedom to become whatever I want. I've always told Jewel that when I get old and really nuts I'll be that guy in the neighborhood that steps out onto the back deck at 5:30 every morning and plays the bagpipes or fires a cannon while wearing rubber boots, boxers and a Top Hat. Followed up with a verbal broadcasting of a recipe for turkey stuffing with jelly beans - at the top of my lungs of course.
The reason I feel this will happen is because being artistically inclined I'm given a very wide berth to do as I please. Others are very accepting of crazy people as long as they have a talent for something. In fact Jewel usually 'has my back' in public and will justify my actions by quietly saying "it's okay, he's an artist" at which time anyone listening usually nods with acceptance followed by..."ahhh".

Now every community has one of these of individuals but we've been in this home for almost eight years now and I can't find ours so I've concluded there is a good a chance as any that it could be me. Try it yourself. Look around you if you can't find yours...your probably it.

My picture today is an English topiary garden. Half a century old by the looks of it. I have a huge interest in these gardens on many levels. The discipline needed to create them, the history and the sculptural appeal. And the fact that it's all outdoors doesn't hurt either. If I had grown up in England (which almost happened) I would have loved a job in a garden like this. Maybe in my next life...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pepe The Donkey

Another day another anti-climax. The Art Fair has come and gone and like Pepe the donkey following a carrot on a stick I am preparing for the next venue that has accepted me. Which in this case is the Canada Blooms show in Toronto being held in March 2009. The Art Fair was fantastic and it was great seeing everyone out and about loading up on one of a kind goodies for Christmas 'and the like'.

Whenever Jewel and I attend these events we usually hear of even more shows and venues, through the proverbial Artisan grapevine, and the Art Fair was no different. I am now aiming at what looks to be a great opportunity at a long running (51 years) Artisan show to be held right on the heels of Canada Blooms. It's juried and very competitive so I'll post my progress as it's available.

It has really been interesting for me to see no matter how much one delves into their 'art' regardless of the medium you can never get away from the business of it all. For me at least art is an escape where I can create characters and worlds of my own choosing. I choose the back story and future of each and every piece I do whether it's a script or sculpture. But now I find myself having to schedule, co-ordinate and promote for a portion of each day. I'm not complaining mind you but I'm also painfully aware that the clock is ticking. The one thing we have no power over is time and I have so much I want to do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So Called Gurus

As I prepare for my first indoor Art Fair I find myself brushing up on old notes - marketing, promotion and such. But I've always noticed that no matter what you read on the formalities of doing business there is something that is always overlooked. It's overlooked in classes, books and workshops. No matter what you are taught by the so called 'gurus' of the business world there is one universal truth that can shut a door in your face as fast as it can open it.

I learned this little tidbit from watching my Father make deals. If I haven't said it before I'm going to say it now. My Father was either the shrewdest or the luckiest person I've ever known. In reality the truth probably lies somewhere in between. He would take me along on many of his business dealings whenever and wherever they were held. Now at the time I had no idea of the weight of the transaction I was bearing witness to. Much of it due to the fact that I was around seven or eight when I started hanging out with my Dad. But more so due to the fact that the transaction was seamless and completely natural.

For example, one Saturday morning we ventured off to a 'meeting' with a supplier. I had no idea what this was for and probably didn't care but it was fun to dress in a shirt and tie, like my Dad, and go for a drive to another large Plant. Especially since being Saturday I got to ride in the front seat. When we arrived the Plant was closed except for the office but we were greeted at the door by an older gentleman also in a shirt and tie. My Dad shook hands with the other man and then introduced me. The other man now shook my hand. I'll never forget the feeling of being treated so equally.

We were given a quick informal 'walk through' of the facility which was a huge deal for me. To me this was Disneyland. Then we settled into one of the offices located near where we parked. So once the coffees were poured the chit chat began. My Father and the other gentleman began a friendly banter about the weather and then some generalities about current events all the while tightening and refining the conversation until observations about each others businesses were tossed back and forth like a beach ball. And then...it was over. They both stood up at the same time and instinctively shook hands. It was like this whole thing was choreographed and rehearsed. I didn't hear a single mention of money or anything very specific for that matter.

As we drove away I asked my Father about the meeting and he responded by telling me that he had just bought a new roof for his Factory.

In the years following it became apparent to me that what I was watching that Saturday morning was two experienced business people doing nothing more than sizing each other up. Which brings me back to the universal truth I mentioned above. No matter how good the product or service is...people will only deal, when given a choice, with people they genuinely like.

At the risk of sounding like a greeting card it costs nothing to smile and be genuinely interested in the other persons venture or inquiry which in turn makes you more likeable. And on that note...

Today I'm showing a pic of a natural rock carved into a delirious grin. This is quite large at approximately 14 inches across and one of the first few natural rock pieces I sculpted.

Did I mention...only three more sleeps until the Art Fair at The Rose Theatre.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sleep With The Prehistoric Fishes

Only nine more sleeps until the artisan show at the Rose Theatre. Whoo Hoo. Unless of course you work in Film then it might only be five...but who's counting.

The actual date is November 22, 2008 when I will be flogging some of my work.

I'm enjoying the road my life appears to be following. I get to make things everyday. But I think for me the real buzz is the 'busting out'...the event itself and the public interaction. I'm very fortunate to of met some great people...both buyers and artisans.

Todays pic is a natural rock carving of a prehistoric fish fossil - my own twisted version of course.

And don't forget...Sat November 22 at the Rose Theatre... Be there or be square.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ascendo Tuum

I began to write my post with..."I woke up today to find old man Winter peering in my window", but then thought shouldn't it be old 'person' Winter? And actually 'old' can be kind of iffy as well. And what about Father Time or Mother Nature? Yikes. Political correctness is freakin' viral...modern day cooties. It spreads, infects and destroys indescriminately. In this case our language and ultimately our very culture no doubt.

I would like to believe that millions of years of brain sculpting did more than teach us to lift our knuckles off the ground. So what I'd like to propose is that the next time you are confronted with a 'politically incorrect' impasse turn to face the road seldom travelled and confidently walk forward extending your middle finger into the air and shout..."Ascendo Tuum" (Pron: 'as-send-o-too-um'). Which translates into..."up yours" but don't worry - not likely to be understood by too many. And in the case they do understand...their next thought will probably be..."cool, someone else that knows profanity in Latin". Now go forth and use your new powers wisely my fellow biped.

Todays pic shows one of my Lava Planters. This particular one is about 14 inches at it's widest. It's a light weight concrete mix that has been carved, burned and stained. In this shot it's overflowing with Succulents.

...later Alligator.



Saturday, November 8, 2008

Coffee And Pie

When I was very young my Father took me to many films. That was our thing...the movies. Followed by late night visits to a diner for his coffee and pie...I would have cherry Jello with whipped cream. It would be one of those great Father and son rituals that we indulged in every time a new war film opened at our local movie theatre. Which in our case it was the Westwood. My father loved war films and I soon grew to love them as well. Together we watched The Great Escape, Kellys Heroes and The Dirty Dozen to name just a few. One of my favorite movie nights included The Bridge Over The River Kwai. In it was a great line delivered by Alec Guinness that goes something like this..."There comes a time for every man when he realizes more of his life is behind him than ahead of him". And as my next birthday approaches I'm reminded of that line and the ritual I shared with my Father.

My picture today really defies description. I look at it nearly every day and when I do I feel timeless...no beginning and no end. Just the way it should be.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Stupidity Has Its Place

For most of us we pluck away at our daily tasks without any thought about the bigger picture. By the bigger picture I actually mean the 'biggest' picture and that would be evolution of our species as a whole. But in reality the biggest picture is really like a mosaic...millions of tiny tiles, or pictures, working in concert to create the full image. That's how I wrap my mind around the whole concept. To carry the point even further I think that stupidity has a necessary place in evolution as well. I'll try to explain with a story...

Okay, so there were these three Cavemen. Now they were the wandering Nomadic type so basically they were looking for a safe warm place to set up camp this particular prehistoric evening. They came upon a steep rising mound and could feel the heat radiating from the crusty surface. As they scaled the rocky mound the heat increased. Very toasty, they thought to themselves and pushed on. Once they reached the top and could see the lip of a crater they stopped dead in their tracks. One brave soul, we'll call him UGG, stepped forward to investigate. He shuffled to the charred opening and peered down inside. This is great...he thought to himself, and as he turned to wave the others forward the crumbly lip gave way and UGG disappeared followed by a 'hiss' and a ribbon of steam. The other two Cavemen looked at each other backed away from the edge a few feet and began to set up camp. So basically as a whole we 'push the envelope' until disaster then we re-evaluate and modify our behavior. And my guess is that this is how it's been since the beginning of time. Sometimes bravery is really stupidity but as you can see from my historic account stupidity has its place. And in order to keep stupidity alive and well we mislabel it as bravery so as to keep a steady flow of 'volunteers' (see UGG). In fact we have even developed a system of accolades, such as medals and bestowed honours, usually posthumously.

For my picture today I have several individuals building a water feature. This is no doubt going to be gorgeous when complete. These individuals are really 'pushing the envelope' with this design/construction method. But in order to place the five ton capstone correctly they'll have to make sure the support rock does not shift when they lower it. They are going to need a 'volunteer'...see where I'm going with this?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Goose

It's Monday morning and I'm starting the week well rested for once. I have a huge 'to do' list today. The fact the clocks went back one hour makes it feel like I'm starting earlier. First up...the trees which are now mostly bare and gave me the chance to give them a good looking over for any damage and the like. I did find some 'Black Knot' on our Choke Cherry tree. The growth will have to be removed asap. For those of you unfamiliar with Black Knot it is a type of lumpy black fungal growth ~ very nasty looking stuff, that can collect seemingly anywhere along the branch structure. The only action available is removal of the afflicted branch well below the lump. Choke Cherry trees are absolutely beautiful and fragrant when in bloom so this is a small price to pay to keep it healthy.

For my picture today I thought I'd better give equal time to the other side of 'the Goose'. Here he is on his own couch...no less.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

10am Squirrel

There are certain moments or events in ones life that stand out as signposts or markers along the way of your personal journey. When you are acutely aware of everything going on around you in that few minutes, or maybe even seconds, and you know instinctively that you will remember this for the rest of your life. Sometimes they are good and sometimes, well...not so much.

This weekend I had a good one. I was invited, along with a dozen or so others, to a birthday dinner to be held at a fairly expensive eatery. Now what made this birthday dinner different was the fact that the 'birthday boy' was footing the bill for everyone...which in all likelyhood was several hundreds of dollars. And to top it off there were no gifts being exchanged. Here was this individual celebrating the anniversary of his 'birth-day' by giving instead of the more typical...receiving.

Personally speaking I'm a big believer in Karma. You know...ripple effect through the universe and all that. It also made me realize I had a long way to go in my own development. And that the 'realization' itself cast the next marker in my personal journey... well, that and the fact you'll never be alone on your birthday if you're the one buying.

Today I've included a picture of mans best friend and mine as well. This is 'Goose'. Not his best side but I love this shot. He's watching for the 10am squirrel which he terrorizes on a regular basis. He's a 75 pound English Bull Terrier and he couldn't be a bigger sweetheart...that is unless you're the squirrel.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dancing Skeletons

You have to wonder if there is any truth to the saying,"a guy thing". I guess being a 'guy' I'm probably too close to and therefore unaware of which of my idiosyncracies are mine personally and which are on loan from the 'club'. I never really bought into the notion that guys did a 'thing' that made them guys. Okay, maybe Three Stooges films...which I love and never fails to make Jewel roll her eyes...and leave the room. But even then I have to believe there are women somewhere in the world that love The Three Stooges. I mean they had wives right?

Anyways as I was walking through my local Rona for probably the third time this week I couldn't help but notice the similarities in the style of dress between fathers and sons. And I'm talking about sons that were little kids. Which I guess is why it never resonated before since the father probably dressed the little guy. And as soon as I made the observation it seemed like the floodgates opened and they were everywhere. Then I began to notice specifics not just to the father and son combinations but among the guys in general. Now in Rona you have to expect the tee shirts, work boots and such but while at the check-out I counted close to a dozen individuals wearing images of skulls in one form or another. Skulls on tees, on hats, on jacket backs. Hmm interesting...and as I pushed my lumber cart to my truck tailgate I noticed the trailer beside me had a Grateful Dead type skull decal displayed prominently. I then climbed up into the cab of my truck and twisted the rear view mirror to adjust my sunglasses and my favourite bandana of all time...that would be the black one adorned with mini dancing skeletons. Hmm...must be a guy thing.
The picture today shows a group of 'Boogas' as they wait patiently for some more sanding etc. These are all handformed concrete columns then chiselled and carved into what you see here. You can just catch part of the opening in the top where a potted plant is installed. This group ranges from 24 inches to about 36 inches tall.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Logistically Speaking

So here we are at the last day of the month. I don't know about you but October has exhausted me. In the last four weeks I've experienced blazing sun-and I mean blazing, high winds, pouring rain and snow. And today we are heading back to a sunny high that would rival the beginning of Spring. Now everyone, including myself, enjoys warm sunny weather but in our house the changing of the seasons brings with it a specific set of tasks and chores. And believe me shutting down a large backyard garden and preparing the house for Winter...and the Holidays has to be planned, timed and coordinated or you could find yourself shovelling a path to your shed to put away the BBQ. Now I'm not one to shy from my duties, in fact I rather enjoy the responsibility, but this weather is driving me nuts! For example...I started with our Christmas lights weeks ago, while it was warm, but I have to wait until 'after' Halloween to complete them because running kiddies have in the past pulled out the power lines as they 'short cut' through our shrubbery. Then there are the bikes, deck furniture, BBQ and lawnmower and so on. All are put away in a certain order so as to not 'gum' up the works. Now add into the mix moving my studio up into the garage before it gets too cold...oh but wait...the garage door installers need that space to work. And then there is the preparing of inventory (wherever I find square footage) for an upcoming show...or maybe two.

I think, logistically speaking, it would be easier to send a monkey into space. At least in space the weather is consistent.
Todays pic is one of my freeform Planters in a Granite finish. Because they are handmade they can be any size or shape. This particular one is almost 24 inches at the widest.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where And How

It goes without saying that we are bombarded with visual distractions each and every day. From the second we wake up we are force fed pre-packaged or manipulated images in the form of advertising...all in the name of commerce. Art too can be overwhelming when it has been overprocessed. Personally I think that art is simply where, and how, you look at something.

This photo shows 'blooms' of competing lichens on weathered Lime stone. Each complimenting the other.

This is from the natural rockery surrounding the patio in our garden.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flogging

It feels good to finally get my 'biz' card design completed. And the star of this post is my new Graphic Designer with whom I've been dealing for a whopping seven days. I mention that only to emphasize the speed in which he works. And he is now creating signage for my booth. Vinyl lettering for my vehicle, one of his specialties, might also be an option. Fast, professional and local...what else can you ask for? If you'd like to know more about the huge range of his services contact 'Jeremy' at
cut.it.out@live.com Tell him 'The Stone Garden' sent you.

And don't forget to visit the Brampton Art Fair, November 22, at The Rose Theatre. I will be shamelessly flogging my own wares at table number 47.

In the meantime check out my new card design. It will be large at 4 x 6 inches closely resembling a postcard in look and feel...later Alligator.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Good Grief People

I have to admit I'm not really a fan of Halloween. On our street we don't see many small kids tapping at the door. Instead we get teenagers...at least I hope they're teenagers. Too young to be at a party or even driving for that matter but definitely way too old to be panhandling at the door for candies. And it's because of that mostly that we stopped taking part in the candy giveaway as of last year. So what we do, or I should say..don't do, is put out a pumpkin, decorate or light up the porch.

Now when I was a kid this was the 'not so secret' code or universal signal, understood by every kid with an empty pillow case, that this house is not interested in you on their doorstep or they have simply 'run out' of candy, goodies, treats and the like. In fact it wasn't even vocalized. The costumed kiddie mob ran directly for the next home with the glowing porch. Well is it just me or was this sacred knowledge not passed on to the next generation? Last year even with our home front in 'total blackout' we had people ringing and knocking for what seemed like minutes at a time. In fact we could hear them mumbling their disapproval at being ignored. At one point I even heard a parental voice instructing their child to "ring again" over and over. Good grief people...read the Play Book or consult with a Village Elder...preferably Pagan.

Okay time to check out todays pic. This was just a bit of experimenting. What do you do with a leftover scoop of concrete and ten minutes? Well, if you have a sand pile you could throw it on top of a few choice pieces of gravel, for teeth, and Birch twigs for hair and you would have a sandcast of a...um, well you'd have a sandcast anyway. It will look even better after seasoning in the garden. Which means moss and lichen and such...honest.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Big Honkin' Turntable

For those that have read my earlier posts you know that I've been working towards setting up a winter studio in our garage. As I have been planning my space I came to the realization that I'm a bonafide construction junkie. This is probably why I enjoy the sculpting process so much. Working with a hammer and chisel can be exhausting but the results of each 'strike' are immediate. So suffice to say it requires total concentration and focus. But it's been a while since I've done any construction at the old homestead. You know like a deck or shed and this fact was brought to the forefront of my mind recently when a friend of mine told me he had just finished building a new shed and Pergola in his yard. And from what I could gather it wasn't the 'Pergola-in-a-Box' type junk from a big box store but the dig and design as you go with 8 x 8's , concrete footings, backfill and landscaping. In fact I haven't been able to stop thinking about it all week. And this cooler Fall weather isn't helping matters because this is the time of year I love to build outside. I do keep a design notebook (big surprise) on things I eventually plan to build. The 'Silver Tuna' being a full blown studio outbuilding with a live-in loft for Jewel and I and the Goose - with all the trappings of which being my own design. The current garage studio will keep me going for only so long until I have to crack open my notebook to find my next fix. Actually come to think of it I could use another big honkin' turntable hmmm...

For todays pic I'm posting some of the smaller items I sculpt. This group includes a small Hosta leaf with a Rusted finish, a small Hosta leaf with riser legs in a Pewter finish and a low profile dish Planter filled with Hens and Chicks. All were created in concrete and seasoned for at least one year.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Angry Aztec

The weather is now officially getting downright ugly. While on the road today and returning from downtown T.O. Jewel and I encountered some pretty nasty wind and rain. This is not usually a problem as we were in my Dodge Ram which is fairly big and cushy as far as vehicles go but today I was carrying, somewhat precariously I might add, a giant block of styrofoam. Now this block took up the whole truck bed and then some. I found someone on Craigslist disposing of several blocks and I decided to grab what I could for sculpting before they disposed of it as waste. Apparently it had been used as low weight landfill over a below grade building. Now they were excavating and re-engineering the area. My gain whoo hoo. I'm waiting for the weather to calm down so I can take the chainsaw to it and cut it into manageable chunks. This will give me the raw material I need to help me create a new idea I've been planning to start this Winter. I hope to have those pics by next Summer.

Now on to one of last Winters projects. This photo shows a concrete cast that I created originally in clay. It stands around 40 inches tall - quite big. When Summer arrived I moved the clay model from the basement shop to my work area in the garage and created a rubber and fiberglass mold for pouring in concrete. This was my first time building a fiberglass support case and I definitely have much to learn. It worked but I made many rookie mistakes which did affect the cast. I had planned to create this sculpture as a limited production piece in concrete but being somewhat of a perfectionist it might get shelved...which really means it will live out its days in our home garden with all my other experiments and one-offs. Think...'the island of misfit toys'. The finish for this is not complete at the time of the photo but you might be able to see the direction it's going. It will be completed in my 'Rainforest' style finish which is several base colours and washes along with lichen, moss and age spots. I've already done the weathering and 'pitting' to give it that artifact look. He's had several names over the months but looking at him gritting those teeth I settled on the Angry Aztec.




Thursday, October 23, 2008

One More Notebook

I am a person that needs to record my thoughts and sketches in notebooks. I keep notebooks on everything. Years ago I'd simply have 'a' notebook but it's gotten to the point I have a notebook for Landscaping ideas and 'a whack' for everything else. I was reminded of this today as I climbed into the cab of my Dodge Ram and sat on some loose paper notes (sketches at a red light no doubt) that were waiting to be 'pasted' into one of my notebooks. If I had to think about it I bet I could find notebooks that reside permanently in almost every room of the house.

This sort of happened gradually over the years. You know when you have a thought or flash of an idea and you want to sketch it that very second...it helps to have a notebook close by. I have one beside my keyboard (obvious) one in the kitchen, one in my studio and on and on. Last night as I settled into bed I grappled for my night table notebook only to discover it wasn't the one I was looking for. Oh horrors. After stepping gingerly over my snoring Bull Terrier I then discovered the correct notebook in the top drawer of my dresser...along with two other forgotten notebooks. They are all somewhat categorized now depending on whether they are for water, rock, sculpture... etc. Years ago I began buying only matching notebooks so they are distinguishable only by the amount of wear to the cover flap. I will sketch until that particular book is full and then start another.

My first notebook of sorts is simply Planter Designs and the like. That was about seven years ago. Since then I've started notebooks to hold ideas on Ferro Cement Sculpture, Sculpted Furniture, Water Features, Faux Bois and so on. Watch for my post on loose paper notes, you know the scribbles and scrawls you steal at red lights, waiting rooms or line-ups at Tims...just kidding. The shot above shows one of my first projects taken from my latest notebook on you guessed it...Lifecasting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brancusi is da man !!!

"Create like a God,

Command like a King,

Work like a Slave."

~ Constantin Brancusi

Don't you just love this guy! The first time I saw this pic I thought the big stone tablet he's sitting on looked like a bed. It's not of course but regardless it always perpetuated the impression that this guy 'lives' his art. Whenever I come across someone like that I'm usually consumed by a mix of envy, admiration and maybe a little intimidation. It's tough to explain but I'm most at home dealing with creative individuals. I find the artsy crowd have a tendency towards distraction and rambling. It's as though their creative process runs in a different 'window' than their logical process and the two have to try and keep in sync...(huh?) Or maybe my rambling is minimized by theirs...(what the hell is this guy talking about?). See what I mean...but anyways it doesn't change the fact that Brancusi is da man !!!


Lake Whatchamucallit

Here I sit scrambling to arrange my day knowing that the clock is always ticking. The weather today is downright rude. Constant winds and colder temperatures. The Goose, who by the way is a great forecaster of weather, has not even gotten off his bed yet. If it's cold or wet outside he will sleep until around 3pm. Who needs the Weather Network.

My new garage studio is still in limbo because I need to save installation room for the insulated garage doors that won't arrive for a few weeks. In the meantime I am planning the most immediate task which is blowing in about 16 inches of insulation over my work space. Once that is done the Gas Contractor will be in for my brand spankin' new heating system. Everything else can be done in the newly heated space - no matter what is happening outside.

Check out this very cool shot. It was taken by Jewel during a girls weekend at the cottage on Lake Whatchamucallit near someplace hours away from here...give or take.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Kachoo

Another day closer to Winter. Our Choke Cherry is losing leaves quickly now all the while carpeting the ground in rich purples. Definitely the tipping point between seasons. Now as the trees begin to thin the overall garden design really has to stand on its own. This is especially true for the front of the house. For my clients that like to entertain during the holiday season I would usually make sure to install some well placed Evergreens and large rocks. These provide great structure, shape and bold winter colour when contrasted against snow. The Evergreens require very little maintenance which makes them ideal if your schedule keeps you from tending to your garden on a regular basis. And the large rocks will provide visual balancing.

When I design a garden I will draw in the rock as per the size and shape I want. If I can't find it I will make it. Yes I sculpt rock - boulders, slabs and large jagged sentry rocks. We have many a boulder not to mention large slab steps in our own landscape. There's something very primal about rock. People will run their hands over it, kids will climb it and pets will bask on it. I am putting together a portfolio of my sculpted landscape rock but for now check out one of my stone carvings.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mulch and Reflect

I walked out of the house today into bright sunshine and crisp air. It's time again to bed down the gardens for winter. As much as I hate to accept it we'll be knee deep, actually probably waist deep, in snow within a couple of months. So today I'm setting out to do my Fall pruning and mulching. Many projects did not get off the ground this year due to the huge amount of rainfall this summer. But I can't really complain as the gardens grew by leaps and bounds.

I always think of Fall as my favourite season. Kind of in between too hot and too cold. You get to end your day in the warmth of your home after spending hours working outside. Your senses are bombarded in Fall as well. The wind arrives in fits and starts which adds some rustle to the trees. The leaves are falling and swirling and when the wind changes direction you can catch the smell of a burning fireplace somewhere in the neighborhood and the colder temperatures just seem heighten the effect. And there is aways the new blushes of colour. Also I find it very peaceful. Maybe it's because not many choose to be outside in the cooler weather but I think it also has to do with the fact we tend to reflect on the past few months knowing the next year will soon be here. Having said that I thought this shot of our 'container garden' fit in well. Though not apparent in this photo...all the containers are shallow concrete bowls of varying diameters. I used different coloured sands in the 'dry mixes' to keep them original.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Scratching At The Door

Fall is definitely scratching at the door. It's very gray out there with just a touch of mist. Our Red Maple is changing quickly from green to firey orange. This is the time of year I begin to move indoors to work. I have embarked on a new construction project this month and that is building a studio in my garage. Full insulation, heating system, multiple overhead lights, security, racking...etc. Exhausting but worth it.

For 2009 I plan to have, in addition to my popular items, some new pieces that are currently lurking in my sketchbook. As always weather and work space do play a part in what I can accomplish but there are a few definite directions I'm taking. I am working on a number of sculptured water features as well as larger scale garden sculpts. Time to explore some new territory.


Here's a shot of one of my first planter styles. It's a lightweight concrete blend 16 inches in diameter with a 10 inch opening. It can be made in a variety of colours and surface textures from smooth to very rustic. This one is in our entrance garden and has the very 'rustic' texture - which I prefer. I try to place several accordingly for maximum effect. In Spring we fill them with Wave Petunias and in Fall we plant Mums.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cheeky Chic

It looks like Fall out there today. My Mountain Ash (the first tree to drop) is looking quite bare thanks to the brief windstorm yesterday. Even the Goose wanted 'in' during that one. I did manage some progress though before yielding to the weather. Yesterday was a mushroom day. I sandcast a couple dozen and today I'm picking...so to speak. And speaking of... I received this pic a few days back from a customer that purchased this one in the Summer of 2007. It is made of sandcast/carved concrete. A steel spike holds it firmly in place. And here it is residing in their beautiful garden bed in the UK...cheeky chic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Booga

This is something new I started over last winter. When I couldn't find anything large enough to carve I decided to form something myself. After much trial and error I ended up handforming a number of concrete columns between 24 and 36 inches tall. While they cured I built myself a turntable capable of handling their weight.

Using a hand-me-down hammer, and a pair of used stone chisels, I carved my first "Booga"...and never looked back. Because each one is hand made there are no two the same. All are sculpted with a hollow in the top that accomodates a six inch potted plant. I've planted them with large Ferns, Coleus, Snake Plant...etc. These look great anywhere. My clients have them in garden beds, patios and on pool decks.


Keep watching my Blog for new designs arriving for Spring 2009.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heavenly Blue

Today it's the morning after yesterday and the day before tomorrow. You know...one of those days when it takes an extra push to find your inspiration. Well this always works for me. I've yet to find anyone that does not fall in love with the sight of the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory.

This one is in our garden.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Fungi Whisperer

Everywhere I go people come up to me on the street and say...Hey! Peter!, how is it you are able to create these wonderful stone delicacies?

"Well", I begin...

Cut To: Dream Sequence with soft Storybook Voiceover.

"It all starts with a custom built honkin' worktable that holds almost five hundred pounds
of blended sand mix".

Insert Shot: Several Dump Trucks backing up.

"It's positioned perfectly, on a northeast by southwest axis..."

Insert Shot: Close-up of Garden Sun Dial.
The shadow grows across its surface in compressed time.

"... under the sheltered reach of a giant Locust tree...that grew from a seed dropped in the poop of a humongous one-eyed man eating prehistoric bird...with a blue beak".

Insert Shot: Giant mangled bird shadow as it glides silently across the ground...Neanderthals grunt and run for an open cave.

"That is where you will find me when the wind, temperature and relative humidity is just so."

Resume Scene:

Peter is sitting in a huge wicker chair wrapped in an Eden-like garden. He's reading from a well worn ancient leather volume. Several animals are gathered at his feet, a pair of Humming birds are hovering on the spot, all listening intently. .

"And that's where I cast and sculpt my world famous mushrooms..."

He now closes the heavy book.

"...The End."

Push-In: to Close-up on book cover. It reads..."THE FUNGI WHISPERER."

Fade Out.
All my mushrooms are handmade...no two the same. They are a combination of sandcasting and carving. An integrated steel spike keeps them firmly positioned in your garden or planter. I plan to bring around 100 pieces out to the Rose Theatre (Brampton Art Fair) on November 22, 2008 and many times that to the Canada Blooms show in Toronto (Spring 2009).

Tres Funky

I spent the day today working outdoors under our Sunburst Locust tree. Even though the weather is beautiful the leaves are sporadically starting to drop.


"Every leaf speaks bliss to me fluttering from the Autumn tree."
~ Emily Bronte

Great line. And speaking of leaves...this large -24 inch- concrete Gunnera leaf is pictured in a "Pewter" finish. It's also available in "Natural" and I am experimenting with a "Rusted Iron" look. I have plans to sculpt a support column, that looks trunk-like, and cradle this leaf on top as a bird bath. After a rain storm this leaf is party central for birdies. Like the neighborhood hot tub. Tres funky! Problem is I can never keep one around long enough. These find new homes quickly.

Word Of The Day: Undulations

This large 'basin' style leaf is just one of many types, shapes and finishes. For example I've also done large Gunnera, Hosta, Rhubarb and Calla. I try to create them with as many undulations (ooh big word) as possible to catch rain water. The water pools just long enough for the birdies to do their thing but not the mosquitos. This particular concrete leaf is about 20" wide and finished in "Rust."

The Skinny on Brian

All my pieces are handmade and usually available in limited numbers. I like to switch gears often and move in new directions. If there is a photo of something you like drop me a line for more information. The actual piece in the photo might be sold but I will have an idea of when, and if, more will be made.

As for BRIAN, he is a concrete blend, stands about 24" tall is plantable and has been finished in 'Rainforest'. I have Oat Grass growing out of his head in this shot.


Okay, now for my daily tidbit, aka: stuff that the whole world is anxiously waiting to hear...Art In The Open has come to a close for the 2008 season..."bummer". I am now ramping up for the Brampton Art Fair being held in The Rose Theatre on November 22, 2008. Hope to see you there.