I always thought I’d have a farm

I was walking on a friend’s farm this morning. I’ve missed it. The icy, freezing rain weather of the last few weeks has made rural walking a treacherous thing. But today – the dog and I made it back out. There was a coyote greeting us on the trail and two white tail deer leapt right in front of the dog – his jaw dropped and he froze in place.

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Getting out and walking has always been a healthy thing for me. Tracing the perimeter of a farm field is almost the best place I know for finding clarity, new perspective and creative thoughts.

It got me thinking about how I always imagined that I would have a farm – something like the one I grew up on. A hobby farm, probably. Living closer to nature is a big draw.

As I looked out into my sizeable back yard last night as the snow fell and wondered why I don’t go out there in the evening – even in the winter – to enjoy the space. Probably the January blah factor. And the darkness.

A farm for me represents space, nature, animals, wood stoves and trails. And maybe a reason to stay home because it is such a beautiful place to just be in.

Lucky for me, I have friends with farms. There are trails, chickens, cats, dogs, bunnies, deer, ponds, big vegetable gardens and views out the kitchen window that I could stare out all day.

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and another 130 days

Wow, that went by quickly. I’m still doing my sketch a day and today is day 260.

It’s been a really interesting creative exercise. I did a theme some weeks – just words, just black and white, just chairs in the house, just coffee. Other times, I sketched about what I did that day or what I was thinking about.

What I’ve discovered through this practice is that I love sketching in the morning (although it rarely happens), afternoons are the next best time to ponder with pen and paints. I love the story of my year that is captured in the pages. I like when I’ve given myself permission to just use words (often when it’s late at night and I haven’t sketched yet). And mostly I love the creativity I’m tapping into. I have always dreamed of being able to draw and sketch – especially watching my dad practice it. And I love how it has made me so much more observant of things around me. How would I draw that, is often echoing in my head.

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130 days of sketching

My one and only resolution this year was/is to do a simple sketch every day. I’ve made it to day 130. I haven’t missed one yet…even if that meant I simply “sketched” words at 10:30 p.m. because that’s all I had left for creativity, concentration and focus.

My sketchbook has 52 pages – so I’m fitting seven sketches on each page. Some weeks I’ve tried a theme. Sometimes it’s just random.

I’m loving this practice. And was inspired by classes with Sketchbook Skool, Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene.

Here are some of my favourite images so far.

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following the fence row

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I took a break from writing at home today to walk a well-worn route at a friend’s farm. It’s the best way I know to relieve stress, spark creativity and find peaceful quiet.

As I walked through the cedar bush with the dog, looking left at the swampy ground holding fallen trees from the latest windstorm, and right at the greening hay fields, I realized why I love this place so much.

It feels like home. (I have joked with the real owners about building just a little cabin at the back where I’m sure I wouldn’t bother anybody…)

The 100-acre farm I grew up on was lined with cedar rail fences. I loved them and walked alongside them hundreds of times. There was something so comforting and familiar to the rhythm of checking in with them and watching the changes in the fields through the seasons.

I’m so lucky to have friends with a farm that has paths I can borrow. And no matter how many times I loop around the fields and through the woods, I discover something new every time. Today it was a beautiful little patch of bloodroot.

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Big, happy, contented sigh. Back to the keyboard until the next walk.

 

 

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sketch 365

I don’t really do resolutions so much anymore. I used to write out a list at the end of the year, carrying it around in my filofax. The second time I looked at it was usually 12 months later when I would cross out the year on the top, and take on the same list again.

This year, it hit me. Do something simpler. Just do a sketch every day. That’s easy. Right?

I got to buy a new sketchbook – 52 pages, one for every week of the year. Seven sketches per page. A book of 365 bits of the year by December 31, 2016.

Isn’t there a saying about doing something at least 21 times until it becomes a habit?

Well, I made it. If it’s January 23, I must be on day 23 of sketches.

I gotta say…I love it. I stop and think about something every day that I could slow down, pull out the pens and watercolour, and capture.

Here’s where I’m at:-)

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If you are looking for inspiration, check out Danny Gregory’s blog or Sketchbook Skool.

 

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multiplying moleskin

I’m packing for a trip and that always includes making sure I have something to write in as I sit at the airport. Some of my best thoughts and words find their way onto a page in a departure lounge.

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As I looked around for which moleskin to bring, I realized I have started a new one many times over in the last dozen years. Only to “forget” and buy a new one for the next adventure.

So I have a small stack of barely broken in books. And so I wondered…do I start another new one? Or do I fill in the one that started in 2010? And if someone ever reviews my works after I’m gone (ha!) there will be a maze of timelines as the dates jump from book to book and over to a new one.

I decided to take the dramatic red moleskin on this trip. And continue my wonderings on the lined pages that began when I brought home my latest dog, Cooper, more than four years ago.

In the search for the book to bring, I came across this…

It’s hard to be happier

It’s hard to be happier with the sun-starched shirts coming crisply off the line

Folding themselves in perfect thirds

Tiny dotted sheets luffing in the backyard breeze

Pants lined in a row – darkening with dryness

Blankets giving up the dog’s hair for freshness

It’s hard to be happier than at this moment

A great reminder in these gloomy dark days of winter. And some inspiration to get me ready for tomorrow’s airport lounge.

For 2016, I’ve decided to trying sketching every day – which of course requires a new sketchbook.

Stay tuned and happy holidays, wherever you are.

 

 

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smokin’ hot kitchen

I can’t believe how much I can cook, at one time, in this new space.

The day started with a three hour hike on the Bruce Trail.

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I came home to cook a roast beef for the first time in 20 years.

Then I threw together a tater tot casserole for a friend with ground turkey, corn, sautéed onions and red pepper.

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And still had energy and counter space to prep my variation of Martha Stewart’s bacon and cheese strata for a fundraiser work breakfast in the morning.

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It’s 7:30 pm. My fitbit says 20,857 steps. I think my work is done. And there’s one more huge reason why this reno was worth the investment.

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