withered

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a withered and crisply dried phalaenopsis orchid flower, still so beautiful

Can you believe it is almost the end of August? The days are noticeably shorter. Our record breaking hot and smoky summer is finally cooling a bit especially at night and with rain forecast for the coming weekend, we all hope our gardens will get a much-needed deep drink. Last fall’s new plantings did not survive this drought which means replacing them later on.

It’s been a summer of celebrations too: a nephew’s marriage in a beautiful wedding in a lovely setting, and a dear friend’s 75th birthday garden party on lovely Bowen Island with many artist friends present…both heartwarming occasions of reunions with family and friends.

waving a feather

feather

still here, still hot, though we recently enjoyed three days of some rain
have had one family member visit
will have our daughters and granddaughters here soon
to attend the wedding of my nephew, their cousin
what a summer!

smoky and hot

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the northeast sky at 4:22 am today

this record breaking hot dry summer continues into its third month
with only a few wee drops of rain, how we need more!
a week of dirty brown skies like a fog sat over the city
from numerous forest fires around our province

I water the parched garden, read, watch movies on DVDs
’tis hard to do much work such as cleaning the house for visitors coming soon
or to find motivation to go into the studio in these dog days of summer
should we migrate to the far north like some birds?
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Added July 20th, as of tomorrow, watering restrictions have been tightened even further: Watering vegetable gardens, established flowers, trees and shrubs is still allowed, but only by hand using a spring-loaded shut-off nozzle.

We have not watered our lawns at all this summer and our car remains filthy. Time to put buckets in our showers, short as they are. While waiting for the hot water to come, I fill the indoor watering can in the kitchen sink. And save the dishwater! Pray or do a rain dance!

magnolia seedpods

MagnoliaSeedPods

Numerous seedpods like this appear under the magnolia trees every year after the gorgeous flowers finish. I’m used to seeing them underfoot on the lawn but haven’t looked at them REALLY closely, until the other day when we were sitting under the backyard tree, seeking some shade from the hot sun. I picked up a few of these underfoot and felt curious and inspired to scan them, as I often do with intriguing things I pick up.

MagnoliaSeedPod_detail

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What a wondrous surprise – the furry bases, the pattern of circles and the scale-like shapes that remind me of some ancient classical architectural features!

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I am sorry to have been so silent on these pages for so long; I can’t believe I wrote only one post in June. This long-lasting heat wave has made me very sluggish, it takes all my energy keeping our garden watered. Thoughts of California-like droughts and forest fires are on our minds here in BC after our mild snowless winter and exceptionally warm and dry spring. We had something like 3 mm. rain in May and about the same in June and the long range forecast continues the same.

I have missed posting about the summer solstice as I usually do and now, today is Canada Day! Happy 148th Birthday, Canada!

this June

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capturing the end of these roses cut from my garden
spring came very early after a mild winter
the garden has never been more beautiful
a record drought in May and now the first heat wave of summer
local berries are also early and now in the stores

how does your garden grow?

artsy ants

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Behold – a discovery of artistic works by ants in our very own yard!

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Note the way the sand has been dug up from between the pavers into circular shapes.

AntEggs

Note in this detail all the big and tiny eggs and even tinier ants.

The story? We use some garbage cans for prunings that are unsuitable for the compost but are to be picked up by municipal trucks on their weekly rounds. For a few days two of these had been sitting on these pavers closer to the street. This afternoon our daughter Erika, who was visiting and helping me put out the various bins to the curb, noticed these upon picking the cans up. Wow, art by ants.

Looking closer we noted the sand patterns followed the patterns of the grooves on the underside of the cans, then noticed all the eggs, big and little and the tiny black pavement ants scurrying about in alarm, frantically carrying the eggs back down to their colonies under the bricks. Luckily and thankfully Erika had her iPhone to snap photos for me. Amazing and hard-working insects, are they not, though sometimes quite annoying in our gardens.

Yue Minjun: A-maze-ing Laughter

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Recently and finally I have seen in person one of the most popular sculptural installations in Vancouver, situated near English Bay for the Vancouver Biennale of 2009-2011. A-maze-ing Laughter, made by Yue Minjun of China, is a group of 14 giant painted bronze figures, all laughing merrily. Eventually it was purchased and gifted to the city by a prominent businessman.

My photos do not do the stunning work justice. Here is a the best I have seen of the entire group, and here is a review. After so many years of seeing and reading about it, I’m so happy to have at long last visited it and noted the happy the crowds around it. In a way, it reminds me of another more recent Biennale installation I saw and wrote about last year.

socks by Lucy

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Pardon the long silence here for I have been busy with spring — much work in the garden, much work cleaning cobwebs indoors now revealed by increased sunshine giving proof of my lazy housekeeping. Having visitors is also an incentive.

I am also late in sharing my delight in a wondrous gift from THE artist of the knitting needles – Lucy of Box Elder. A little while ago, she had requested my foot dimensions so she could make me some warm slipper socks. It was like Christmas over again when opening the mail package for these are like those worn by the Finnish Santa and his elves. Red hearts are a beloved symbol in Finnish crafts, and red is my favourite colour often mixed with black, both in our home decor and my own wardrobe. Note the lovely craftmanship in the felted wool sole with silicone heart shapes for non-slippage!

My feet and I thank you, dearest Lucy, for this wondrous gift!

water stains

Waterstain

more play with another water-stained digital print
awakening memories of J.M.W. Turner’s paintings seen in London in 2009

May Day Eve

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Happy May Day Eve! Hauskaa Vappua! If you are in Finland many of you may have enjoyed bonfires on beaches, along with some sima and tippaleip√§√§. In Germany, it’s Walpurgisnacht, in England there’s Maypole dancing. Here is one of many posts from my archives about this eve and day. Rather miss it here in Canada.

I have been playing in my little studio with offcuts of old print proofs, some of which had water damage that had resulted in some fascinating new patterns, bleeds, stains and even wrinkles, such as in the above image. It makes me think of those wonderful bonfires so thought to place this one here.