Needle-felting an animal on an Armature

20 12 2016

So, you’ve always wanted to make a dog, or a horse, or a goat, or a sheep. Better still if you could pose them…

I’m teaching a two part class at the Trainyard General Store February 18 & 25, 2017. You can get in touch with them here:
53 Portland Street
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

(902) 407-5242

Cost of the workshop is $50 plus taxes. All materials will be included to make your very own posable felted four-footed animal.

Some examples:

 

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Becoming an urbanite

3 07 2016

scenes-from-suburbia-ppart-1I’ve lived a lot of my life in the grimness of suburbia. You know – the large lawns, the well-spaced houses, located around schools and playing fields. The places from which you must drive to get anywhere exciting – or you can walk around your suburban block and watch other’s lawns grow, admire their gardens, comment on the lack of maintenance or the amazing maintenance, dodge lawn sprinklers and skateboards and bored teenagers with cars.

Some of them were nice suburbs – my home town of Winchester, Ma, for example, but I never really lived there. I lived in my house and yard and went downtown as a treat – it was a long walk and my parents were too watchful for me to go down there much (though I was allowed to go skating on an unmonitored lake whenever I wanted – I think my mother was afraid I’d take to drinking or smoking or hanging out with the fast crowd. As if they’d have me.) The bad kids in my crowd would go to the drug store, for heaven’s sake, and hang around buying makeup, or stealing it. We were even in the part of town that missed D’Agostino’s and the fun had by hanging out there. We were in the ultra suburb. We had one Jewish family in town. No black children until we bused them in from Boston.

Not a natural environment for the curious.

homeI’ve even lived in a suburb without an urb – the town of Shilo, Manitoba – a cluster of suburban roundabouts and 1950’s homes on a military base, in the middle of the short grass prairie, equally inconvenient to anywhere in North America as it was smack dab in the middle of the continent. When I first moved there, I slipped into a time warp, started wearing an apron, and cooked five batches of chocolate chips in the first week to share with the local kids before my natural anti-50’s soul rebelled. Still, I spent a heck of a lot of time house-cleaning there, my brain slowly leaking out with every bucket of pine-sol laden water poured out of the bucket. I wasn’t allowed to speak to men there, as every woman was pre-supposed to be on the hunt for a better husband (higher in rank). I also was reproved for speaking to the other ranks’ wives. I bought TUPPERWARE. In my defence, I had to, because the CO’s wife sold it. I still have it, 25 years later, a cautionary tale about being forced to conform.

I wasn’t brave then. I was unsure of who to be – I didn’t fit into the military wife drink and gossip gang, and there were so few kindred spirits and I was afraid to reveal myself to them. I was half my age now when I lived there, and my husband was establishing himself at the same time and it was rough for both of us to squeeze into the military mode. He stuck it out longer than I did, but then he had my support. I didn’t have his.

So suburbs, suburbs, suburbs. And now I’m making a change. I’m moving on down, as the Jefferson’s might have sung, truly – from my deluxe apartment in the sky, to a smaller, darker, less glamorous one in the nest of the downtown. Yes, Dartmouth rather than Halifax, but I remember so well the words of a couple I met when I first moved here – “We lived in Halifax and looked at Dartmouth – if we’d been smart, we would have done the opposite!”

Oct-Nov-2015-089-smaller-600x400(My house! (to the right))

I found a place right in the heart of everything. I look out at the downtown main street – I’ve often dreamed of living above a shop and I have that now, though it’s a holistic health centre (fewer food smells). The local bars are clustered across the street, as is the library. Little shops and dental offices and restaurants and theatres and music are within a few steps. The street noise is a wonderful melange of people talking, fog horns, train bells, ship calls, and the occasional “I have no balls so I am going to pull out the muffler on my motorcycle” jerks. Poor and wealthy walk by my windows, commuters stride by to catch the ferry, buses gasp as they make the turn. I can step across the street and inhale the harbour, get fresh fish and chips, go to the farmer’s market, grab an ungodly rich croissant.

I’m thinking of selling my car, trusting to legs and bus and ferry and car share and rentals when I want to go afield. I CAN DO THAT! I did that before, in cold as hell and hot as hades Ottawa, and gave in after winter. I’m in a better climate now, and I know this place. The prospect excites me.

I’m going to be an urbanite! It feels like a new cloak, a new identity. Onwards, ever onwards.

amandine-urruty-spitz

If I hate it? Well, there’s always the country….

 

 





Wandrin’ Star

23 01 2016

By now probably all of you have seen the ad by Amazon, with the tousle-haired man and his dog with the broken leg. It’s sweet but the song attached to it seems an odd choice (well, except that the dog wants to wander and can’t, poor wee thing). It’s catchy, though and sticks in the head. For those of you who wonder how the rest of it goes, here it is: (click on the first lines for a link to the Youtube of Lee Marvin singing it…)

I was born under a wandrin’ star
I was born under a wandrin’ star
Wheels are made for rolling, mules are made to pack
I’ve never seen a sight that didn’t look better looking back
I was born under a wandrin’ star

Mud can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry
Snow can burn your eyes, but only people make you cry
Home is made for coming from, for dreams of going to
Which with any luck will never come true
I was born under a wandrin’ star
I was born under a wandrin’ star

Do I know where hell is, hell is in hello
Heaven is goodbye forever, its time for me to go
I was born under a wandrin’ star
A wandrin’ wandrin’ star

When I get to heaven, tie me to a tree
For I’ll begin to roam and soon you’ll know where I will be
I was born under a wandrin’ star
A wandrin’ wandrin’ star
Read more: http://artists.letssingit.com/lee-marvin-lyrics-born-under-a-wandering-star-zfs6zf2#ixzz3y79V5jpL

I’m feeling that restlessness again. I don’t know whether it is winter or cabin fever or my lack of success with knitting broad-amyut I feel the need to stretch my legs. Somehow.

The other song that keeps running through my head is the Rose Vaughan Trio’s Restless as a River, a lovely tune with a haunting melody that sounds just like water over river rocks. And then there’s Rawlin’s Cross‘s Open Road, a song I listened to obsessively when I was contemplating divorce so many years ago…:

 If you want to you could stay, dream your life away
Counting the old memories you have stowed
But if you could be what you could be, you’d be just as good as free
I think it’s time you hit the open road

Chorus:
Open road, carry me
And take me where I can be free
Lead me where I’ve got to go
To the end of the open road

The future sits beside you, whisper in your ear
Telling you that now it’s time to go
But I don’t know how far you’ll get before sunset
I just know it’s time you hit the open road

Leave the past and let it wait, do not hesitate
Take your time and time will take your load
There’s nothing here for you but the memories and the blues
I think it’s time you hit the open road

I don’t know. Maybe it’s the Sagittarius in me, or maybe it’s from years of wandering as a military spouse, but for a while now I’ve felt the need to shift my location. I’m not sure where as yet. Will it be to Wolfville, small College town in the Annapolis Valley? Will it be elsewhere? Where?

I love it here. I love the people I’ve met and gotten to know. But there’s something… Perhaps, like Vianne Rocher in Chocolat, it’s the tricky north wind that calls me to travel, to experience something new. To force myself out of the comfort of routine, to encourage me to step bigger, to take chances, to expand my view. Or maybe to tighten my view, live somewhere smaller, somewhere where I can walk places, where there are birds other than pigeons to see.

Perhaps I can do this here. Perhaps I can’t. I only know there is something not sitting quite right here in my lovely cozy spacious apartment in the city, despite the friends around me. Like a pebble in my shoe, it pesters. I can push it to the side, ignore it for a while, but it’s still there…

not-all-who-wander





Tiptoeing through – no – stomping through the tulips

6 03 2012

Last night I had an out-of-body experience.

I’ve been trying, half-heartedly, to learn how to play the ukulele for months now. I have my son’s old high school uke, a tuner given to me by my friend Bob, and a couple of books far too advanced for my skills.

So I’ve tinkered along, not learning much, letting dust accumulate.

Then I went to see a fabulous concert by James Hill and Anne Davison. They are such a sweet act and so lovely to watch together, on uke and cello, respectively.

At that concert I met a fellow wanna-uker who said she wanted to go to the monthly Halifax Ukulele Group meeting at the Celtic Corner pub in Dartmouth, NS. We promised each other we’d go together, and now that I was actually going to be playing somewhere in public, I started practicing in earnest, got a couple of more appropriate books, learned about six chords, sort of.

And then it was off to the H.U.G.

We thought we’d go a bit early to be sure we’d get seats.

We barely wedged into the room. There were fifty people, give or take, at least fifty-three ukes, and song books flying all over the room. The fearless leader, heaven help him, called out the song names. There was the sound of frantic page turning, then random chords here and there for a couple of minutes as everyone stretched out their fingers.

Then he counted off, and we flew into the songs. If you’ve never been in a crowded space with fifty people playing ukuleles and singing at the top of their lungs, well, all I can do is recommend it. I laughed so hard while I was playing I nearly fell off my bar stool.

Everyone is at a different level with their playing – many newbies who play the chords they can and hand-synch the others, people who can actually play the instrument but are learning the songs, and experts. Plus a few people along just for the singing and foot-stomping. It’s madness, but we all ended the songs on time, and I got pretty comfy with a few chords and strumming by the end. My heart was full with gratitude that such a thing as the H.U.G. exists.

But it’s not your gentle uke strumming like the above wahine. No, it’s a bit more like below.

So now I’m wondering, where can I get a leather suit?








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