Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cross Winds

The last gasp of winter past was all too deter-mined yesterday. While the sun broke now and again it couldn't compete with the bitter wind that assailed anyone caught in the open. And even while in my truck I could feel the weight of cross winds bearing down on me.

And while the only vehicle on one of our less travelled roads two young deer bounded across my path and melted into the wooded shoulder moments later. I like to believe there's a message to be had from witnessing such natural things... Life can be as simple or as complicated as you choose it to be.

My pic today is from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Unruliest

And as I crouched to trim the unruliest of the Dogwood stems I suddenly realized there were dozens of birds singing throughout the yard. Stitching the skyline as they gathered choice bits of straw from the garden bedding. They seemingly arrived overnight.

And though I have yet to discover any new dens I have seen a large bunny near our back door. He (or she) seems quite comfortable with my company almost to the point of being tame.

The Coyotes too have made their presence known with their determined howls after dark. Spring is upon us.

Here's a pic of granite boulders wearing their scars like some ancient calendar.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Yards Of Wind

Finally some sunny weather. I woke up to sunlight oozing through the bedroom shutters. Even the Goose ran, okay staggered with purpose, to the back door to take advantage before it faded.
I spent a good part of yesterday cleaning the front and back yards of wind scattered debris. The first day of what usually amounts to about a week of cleaning and organizing that marks the arrival of the new season.
Rough pruning and bed clean-up will start next as well as relocating plants much like one would rearrange furnishings once they look out of place.

This pic is a very intense looking mushroom cap that I discovered growing at the base of a Bradford Pear tree that I had recently planted. It sprung up almost over night, as mushrooms tend to do, shortly after planting. I thought the leathery texture looked great.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour

This years Earth Hour takes place on Sat. March 28 at 8:30 pm in your time zone. Participate or not, it's up to you. My hope is that you will in at least a small way. If your not able to turn off all your lights and accessories turn off what you feel is manageable. Though the action is mostly symbolic it's a great way to create discussion with family members.

Your positive actions could influence your children's decisions regarding conservation for decades. Not a bad thing considering they will become the next wave of leaders and policy makers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sand Castings

Every year right about this time it sinks in that I have missed out on yet another Paddy's day celebration. It's not that I forget it completely but that I'm usually immersed in one project or another and can only witness it from the sidelines.

This year that distraction being Canada Blooms. And it's also around this time that I promise myself that next year I'll attend the parade, enjoy a cold Guinness and think only Irish thoughts.

Today's pic shows a sampling of my tile sand castings. These can be used as 'trickle down' water features or simple decor...inside or out. This shot shows natural sand but they will also be available in cold cast bronze.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So To Speaketh

Canada Blooms wrapped up on Sunday and we were moved out by the next day. Things went very well all in all. In addition to direct sales I received numerous orders for Booga's as well as requests by retailers to carry some of my pieces.

Now it's time to slow down and catch my breath. I've been going at full speed for about three months and need to take stock, so to speaketh. The next show on the calendar will be the Huttonville Arts and Antiques show on the April 5th weekend.

I unfortunately missed the deadline for the Fairy Lake show in Markham but will definitely be applying to Kempenfest. That looks to be a great party. Over 200,000 visitors last year can't be wrong. It opens with a tribute to the men and women of the military to be held on the July 31 long weekend in Barrie Ontario. There might be more shows on the calendar but those are the main ones.

On a more somber note I'd like to mention the Goose. He turns eleven today. Doesn't sound old but being an English Bully, ten is considered to be the closing chapter on his all but short life. His hearing and vision are failing and he does spend most of the day lounging either at the foot of my chair or in the pool of sunlight spilling onto the kitchen floor. And throughout it all the one thing that has never changed is his sweet disposition.

Today's pic shows a sampling of our booth from Canada Blooms.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

18th Until Sunday

I will be at Canada Blooms, in Toronto, from Wednesday the 18th until Sunday the 22nd. We actually arrived on the scene several days in advance to put final touches our booth. From what I have seen so far the show is going to be fantastic.

The larger vendors have been building for almost a week now and construction is everywhere! 'Loaders' are running around dumping massive buckets of soil and mulch for berms and gardens. You could camp out in some of these displays.

The 800 level is full of trees, waterfalls and patios. There were even birds cruising around. Mostly urban chickens (Pigeons) mind you but Sparrows too. Very cool either way.
Today I've included an up close and personal shot of one of our succulent groupings.

Monday, March 16, 2009


A few days ago I had found a fallen nest in the yard. More than likely a result of the heavy winds of late. It appeared to be newly built with tufts of downy feathers and strings of wool still lining the sculpted bowl.
If you've ever watched as a pair of birds flew back and forth to cobble together a nest you can appreciate the effort it took.
There was no sign of the builders or any inhabitants but it was still a sobering sight. And it made me ponder just how absolutely random life is. It can come crashing down even before it seemingly begins.
This is another pic from the spreading tapestry of Lichen blooms growing on the Limestone rockery surrounding our patio.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sex Act

Late one night after a very long day I decided to place a phone call to one of our local Chinese eateries for take-out.

I've ordered there dozens of times and knew my way around their menu pretty well. Well enough in fact (or so I thought) that I could recite my order without referring to the flyer that was pinned under the Three Stooges fridge magnet.

This particular night my call-in order drew nervous giggling from the young female voice on the other end of the line. It then escalated when I informed her I would be paying cash in return for their ten percent discount.

I finished with my order and hung up the phone. More than a little puzzled I approached Jewel and described the exchange. She then did a quick 'Google' and quickly informed me, with much glee I might add, that I had muddled the verbiage of my usual dish and instead ordered a highly specialized sex act that oddly enough was available in several adaptations depending, I assume, on your geographical location. All of which by the way Jewel was only too happy to read aloud just prior to me heading out to pick up the order.

I debated whether to include the actual terminology in my post since it has no value but anticipating the fact people will ask and who am I to censor anything? Now, if you are so inclined you can 'Google' it (Shanghai Surprise) for yourself. But be forewarned! Like a train wreck, once viewed the images could haunt you forever...especially when ordering Chinese take-out. Enjoy!

Today's pic is a funky looking gathering of highly prized Morel mushrooms. Why this shot? For many reasons, but mostly because they just look coolio. That said, have a very safe Friday the 13th.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Couple Of Sputters

Spring is going to get here. Which means it will soon be time to get the ol' lawnmower out. Add some fresh fuel...mutter a short prayer that it will start "just one more time, hope..hope...hope".

A couple of sputters, a puff of blue smoke and the curtain will have risen on the new lawn care season.

Now in the suburbs if you hear one lawnmower you'll hear a dozen. The brain circuitry of the suburban male homeowner is wired such that the moment a mower 'fires up' anywhere within earshot he is compelled to utter the obvious.

It will sound something like..."Uh oh, whatzhizname's doing his lawn...guess I better get out there too". At which time he'll now go and start up his own lawn mower. And so on it goes repeating from yard to yard. It overtakes the whole street before spilling into the next neighbourhood.

And just when it looks like the entire city could be awash in mower noise this viral chain of events is suddenly broken as it reaches the ears of a slightly mutated version of the same suburbanite, otherwise pre-occupied with an equally powerful ritual, worshipping at an alter of stainless steel...the BBQ. It's a delicate system of checks and balances that has evolved over decades of Saturdays.

This pic is another shot taken directly from my bench. A work in progress, it's a rock that has been 'ground' smooth on the reverse side enabling it to hang flat on a wall or fence.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Feelin' Some Sugar

There are very few of us that are not feeling the effects of this economic down-turn. I'm starting to notice several things in the retail big box store that I frequent, some good as well as not so much. The 'not so much' is the shrinking availability of products that I burn through every week. A direct result no doubt of reduced deliveries and fewer staff to stock shelves.

And the positive effects that I have noticed are that sales staff could not be any more helpful. Gone are the surly attitudes and the sour faces seen when things are flush. Survival among the retail giants has now culminated into aisle warfare and courtesy with a smile is the name of that game.
The other day, while trying to source material, I actually had staff from one store calling their own competition to inquire if they had what I needed. It's hard to not be feelin' some sugar for an organization like that.

Today's photo depicts one of the clay sculpts that I'm working on...Roostericus.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Is It Just Me?

Most of you have put your clocks ahead this weekend by one hour thereby eliminating one hour of your lives. Is it just me or does anyone else feel a bit ripped off? Personally speaking I'm short on time as it is.
Usually the week following the 'changing of the clocks', as it's officially referred to around here, Jewel and I can be heard calling out to each other from anywhere in the house at any given moment to inquire as to the correct time...okay, only I can be heard.

I have to admit it usually takes me weeks to change the clocks or sometimes months and some clocks I just leave until the time changes back. Oh, and the clock in my truck?...it only displays the time from 'God knows where'.

Today I have another "as it's being carved" pic straight from my bench. Kind of an crazed Tiki look that's evolving.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


So this past weekend we did a dry run of my Canada Blooms layout. All went very well especially with the addition of the new display booth that came into my possession the week before. Goose is not quite sure of what to make of it all as it takes up a good piece of the living room and incidentally blocks access to his couch. Yes, he has his very own couch.

I've been carving as much as time permits and will have several new pieces for the opening day of Canada Blooms. But all in all the last few days have been spent trying to trim away the myriad of loose ends.

I don't imagine that will change much for at least the next several weeks. After Canada Blooms I have just about ten days to get ready for the Huttonville show and following that it will be time to start approaching Spring retailers.
Here's a pic straight from my bench.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Last summer I was driving along a country road just north of our home when I passed a huge farmers field surrounded by a wire fence. Now along this fence at several intervals I noticed a posted sign that read "Beware Of Dogs". Not "Dog", but "Dogs". The property owner was obviously going for extra terror. Now at about the time I passed the third identical sign I noticed a vehicle parked at the side of the road and several individuals crouching on the other side of the fence. They were helping themselves to the owners vegetable crop. I remember thinking that sign might as well be in Latin for all the notice the trespassers took of it.

Latin, now there's a language of mystery and everyone enjoys a good mystery. I'd go as far as to say that our psychological health depends on mystery...questions. We need questions. Questions to our brain are like currency to the economy. Asking questions keeps us from stagnating.

So as I continued on my way I questioned how to make a better mousetrap or in this case better "Beware Of Dog" signage that would actually deter such inconsiderate behaviour. And I came up with, "Snake Habitat". And directly beneath in smaller typeface the words, "Venom Hot Line" along with a phone number that would be barely readable. Effective? Anyways you get the idea.

Monday, March 2, 2009


So here I am, just two weeks from the start of Canada Blooms. As of a few days ago I was running very low. I absolutely hate to admit it but the prep work and expenses involved were really taking their toll on me. And I was not aware of how much until just this past weekend. It started the same as any other day, the same tasks, the same pressures but increasingly so. The very fact that my 'lead' time was running short left me less room for errors. But all that changed on Sunday. I started out by visiting with a good friend for coffee. This was primarily just to have a break and to gather my thoughts.

During our 'get together' I received a return phone call from an ad I had responded to by leaving a message. Through happenstance (I love that word...happenstance) the caller was selling off a quantity of display fixtures. To make a long story short I made the trip out to his home and upon arrival I was greeted by the gentleman and his wife, both professional artists as it turns out. We spent the next couple of hours touring their home studio talking about art, the show circuit, their experiences and so on. As I spoke of the mounting pressure that I was experiencing with the show prep they smiled warmly at each other and the wife said simply, "I remember".

By the time all was said and done I had been given a large amount of material and equipment that they had lovingly cared for throughout their careers. Much more than what he had described on the telephone hours earlier. But the most bittersweet was the manila envelope bound with a rubber band...chock full of footnotes and sketches. I opened it to find the details of over twenty years worth of ideas and display plans for dozens of venues that they had attended professionally. It had all been recorded as their careers literally blossomed. I was floored by all of this. Here, I started my day with what I thought was the weight of the world on my shoulders and by evening it had turned around 180 degrees. The short time I spent with these wonderful people had completely recharged my spirit and my outlook.

And as I put the last box into the cab of my truck I turned and asked, "how are you able to part with all of this?" The gentlemen then told me he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and since its onset he has been unable to continue doing the work he loved. We then said our goodbyes but not before they asked me to keep in touch and to let them know whenever I needed some advice. I plan to see them again in spring.