open book and symmetrical mugs

Day 10 – Symmetry

Symmetry is a calming, static element in composition. On day 10 of the artsy forager’s instagram challenge, #artsydefined, I was enjoying a relaxing Family Day holiday, so I enjoyed an easy start to the day with a good book and coffee (above). 

Later in the week, I took a better photo representing symmetry at work. Symmetry is a key element in First Nations art, as seen in the example below.

Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site

Symmetry: Kwantlen First Nations artwork outside Sxwimele gifts at Fort Langley National Historic Site



old and new books

Day 9: Juxtaposition

Juxtaposing things is a big deal in art and photography. I can’t imagine an artist talk that doesn’t at some point juxtapose incongruent things: an impoverished person seated in front of a sports or an elderly person holding a newborn infant. So I was surprised that I was having trouble thinking of things to juxtapose. I tried old and new books, and also a large and small spoon.

So the true artsy story today is probably more about what two girls, 30 years apart, were doing whittling spoons in 2014.

spoon carving party

My daughter and I carving spoons.

Here I have juxtaposed my six-year-old and I carving spoons at my friend–and old college room mate’s–party. I love that my friend brought together a bunch of people of all ages to make spoons and then eat a big pot of soup together. I love breaking bread with people and this was a great way to bring creativity into daily life.

This is a big part of what I value about a community: to live life together in a creative way with the people who live near you. My friend has been living this way for years, although not always easy, she is breaking down barriers and walls in her neighbourhood. Living as much as possible without a car. Bringing about life-giving change.

I hope that our family can also start inviting more people near us into our creative lifestyle. For me, that is integrated with enjoying nature together, and just maybe hosting a carving party (or not, I don’t think I’d like cleaning up after that, but maybe a painting party).

In conclusion, I offer up this modern blog chronicle in juxtaposition to the ancient nature of gathering with neighbours to carve spoons and eat from a communal cauldron.


Angular shadow of soccer net and playground

Day 7: Angle, as measured at the schoolyard.

I love the way the soccer net and its shadow play with angle! And the way the two photos I took on Day 7 for the art element, angle, play together. The composition between the shadow and the chain in the other photo worked out well.


shadow of plants and blinds

Shadows at home.

Shadows: what an unusual sight in British Columbia in winter. Perhaps this daily photo challenge is a good way for me to notice how many sunny days we are actually having, to bolster me for the current forecast (rain until February 20). I liked the beautiful morning sunshine in our living room, and this untouched photo of the shadow of a few jugs and dried plants on our piano.

Noticing: that is what this series is all about for me. I have a very busy life right now. I work full time in a somewhat demanding job. I’m a mom to two young children and a wife. It is not always easy to find time for art and creativity, but it is one of my key values. I love being able to have this little key word to look for each day to “notice” life; to experience it.

If I was a high school art teacher, I think I’d make this one of the assignments.


barrel staves leaning on Fort Langley palisade

Walking into work, this line of barrel staves caught my eye.

The challenge on Day 4 was to photograph the element of line. As I walked into work on a beautiful sunny morning, I noticed the line of barrel staves leaning against the palisade.

The palisade itself is such a symbolic line in the course of Fort Langley and BC’s history: it is a line of logs standing to mark a line, by definition, to communicate property between past cultures. Today, it stands and is maintained because of the significance of British Columbia’s proclamation which occurred within its enclosure in 1858.

Here is the railing of the Big House, where the event happened, as well as a bird’s eye view (at least from the office) of the palisade. Both of them create beautiful lines in stark winter sunshine.

Fort Langley railing and wall

Railings and palisade create lines at Fort Langley

Andy Goldsworthy revisited

There is little I find more inspiring in art than nature or natural objects. One reason we continue to live where we do–Abbotsford, BC, just east of Vancouver–is that we have a mountain a minute away that is riddled with mountain biking and hiking trails. It’s our family’s favourite pastime; and hopefully on this new Family Day holiday in BC, we’ll get a chance to get out there.

Sumas Mountain bike trail Abbotsford BC

Our family’s latest hike on Sumas Mountain

But this week, it was my four-year-old son who got me back into looking at Andy Goldsworthy (by the way, my post Andy Goldsworthy, worthy of your eye, is my most popular post in the past ten years of blogging). Every night this week, he’s brought me one of our coffee table books and asked me to read it. He then asked me to get out “Rivers and Tides” from the library again.

child point out picture in book

My son preferred reading about Andy Goldsworthy over Clifford and Winnie the Pooh

Hearing my son’s sense of wonder and fascination over Goldsworthy’s nature sculptures renewed my own. Watching Rivers and Tides, I always want to BE Andy – live in a village and make things out of nature. It appears so life-giving. Except perhaps when a sculpture collapses…for the fourth time…and his hands are bleeding from handling sharp icy slabs of rock on a windy shore.

But then, there is a lesson in that too, which he explains on the film. With every collapse, he got to know the stone a little bit more. His connection with it increased. And the results are breathtaking. The final seed-shaped stone cairn not only stands until completion; it survives a night of tide completely engulfing and burying it, then receding again to reveal its form against a pink sunrise.

Andy Goldsworthy stick throw in book

Kids enjoying the picture of the “stick throw”

October is over

Cedar trees, Sechelt, BC

Cedar trees, Sechelt, BC

November is nearly half over, and I’m just now pausing to say that I feel I missed October. Altogether. It has been a particularly busy year and I sometimes sense I’m missing my own life. Like a dream, where your actions have little impact or control on events as they slip past.

During that stressful month, we manged to get away for a weekend to a west coast paradise, though strangely encapsulated by mystical fog. Fog that crouched so heavily on BC’s sunshine coast that we only saw the sun briefly the first afternoon we were there. Despite the bone-chilling mist, we had a wonderful time, exploring forests thickly carpeted in moss and dozens of varieties of mushrooms. We warmed ourselves in our cozy cabin and with hot drinks & food from the Gumboot in Roberts Creek. We tasted apples at a homespun apple festival in Davis Bay.

our little cabin

our little cabin

Halfmoon Bay

Halfmoon Bay

The highlight for me, and our reluctant children once they got over their initial fears, was canoeing, albeit in a canoe identified as being “the one with the duct tape on the bottom” by our hosts. As a teen, I lived for our annual camp where I could canoe, hike and climb at Canadian Adventure. It was awesome to share this experience with our kids, silently cutting through the water between tiny islands, chasing seals and gulls.

our son's adventure - to land on this "island" while canoeing.

our son’s adventure – to land on this “island” while canoeing.

Curtis Hildebrand Photography

My husband got to do a bit of photography.

I was reminded how much I love nature, art and literature. There were lots of great books in the cabin that I poured over between adventures. We also felt very much at home in the small communities on the sunshine coast, with lots of room and inspiration for our photography and art. I spent some time with our youngest, drawing one day.

From a spiritual perspective, I can’t get over how aware I am that God is there, that he really created this beautiful world, when I am in nature. I love the stillness of old-growth forests towering over me, of  boots being lost silently in moss.

Sechelt, BC

Sechelt, BC


Spring Salmon with Cranberry Almond Salad

_MG_1189_1   Last weekend I was excited to receive some freshly-caught salmon from a friend, since I’d somewhat lost confidence in buying salmon from stores. Having a day off work, I got creative and served it with my own spin on a parsley-almond salad I’d seen online. I also prepared one of our favourites: Plain & Fancy Cornbread from the Rebar Cookbook. Our kids (and us) love the maple-cinnamon-pecan butter that goes with the simple cornbread (it’s in the yellow bowl).

Cranberry Almond Parsley Salad

1 clove of garlic
1 tblsp.-ish of red wine vinegar
Olive oil
1 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup of toasted sliced almonds
1 handful of cranberries, chopped (I had some in the freezer from last year’s Fort Langley Cranberry Festival).
8 green olives, chopped
  1. Pour wine vinegar over the minced garlic, and let sit while you make the salad.
  2. Toast almonds, let cool.
  3. Pick and chop parsley from backyard.
  4. Chop olives and cranberries.
  5. Mix everything together with some olive oil.
  6. Spoon over oven-roasted salmon and enjoy!
Salmon dinner

Salmon with almond-parsley-cranberry salad and cornbread

What I Am Into This Month – August 2011

Following suit, linked to Megan at SortaCrunchy and Sarah at Emerging Mummy, I will sum up my August.

On My Nightstand:

  • Together, hedged in by teeming life

    While I didn’t actually read Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, or even read it in the past five years, I lived it every day in Ontario. The first night we stayed on the farm, blanketed in humidity, ears ringing with the overwhelming buzz of insects, blocked from my grandparents’ old house by thick and wild overgrowth, I thought of Annie and her knack for describing the awe-inspiring beauty and horror of her rural landscape. Case in point, the sheer number of cicadas my 2-yr-old son and I found on a single tree one day (about 5 and then more later), emerging from their skins:

Cicada emerging from its skin

  • Elizabeth Hay’s Alone in the Classroom – not as engaging as her Late Nights on Air, I still appreciated the Canadian literary qualities of the book. I also enjoyed reading a book that showed me how a writer could link together stories from an ancestor’s life in the early 20th century.
  • Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s Nurture Shock: New Thinking about Children – a fascinating book featuring eight topics like praise and self esteem, why kids lie, sleep deprivation, etc. I love this kind of book – lots of interesting research that is already changing my perspective and practices with our kids.
  • The Bible – it’s always on my nightstand but it’s been open more than usual this month.
  • Little Princes – orphans living in terrible conditions in Nepal after being sold by their parents, who were deceived by traffickers…it was a truly moving story. A young man goes down to volunteer and ends up starting a charity to help reconnect the families.
  • Syrie James’ The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen – light summer reading for my vacation – I got right into this story but at the end of the day, knowing it is fictional (but based on some facts) makes it intrinsically disappointing.

Want to Read: The Help, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Book Thief

T.V. Shows
We don’t have cable, so the most TV I watched was on the flight back to BC from our family vacation in Ontario, when I watched 3 consecutive episodes of What not to Wear. It is worth noting that my plane TV screen only worked on one of four flights. And earlier this summer I watched (and surprisingly really enjoyed) the first season of Gilmore Girls.

Movies I’ve Seen: We actually took our two preschoolers to a real movie in the theatre: Winnie the Pooh. I borrow quite a few DVDs from the library such as Monsoon Wedding, the Red Balloon, Exit Through Gift Shop, Roman Holiday, etc. I watched Kandahar last week and it’s really stayed with me. 

In My Ears: I listen to music a lot to help me concentrate at work, and have finished about five months of going through my ipod songs in alphabetical order! Now I often go for shuffle songs, though I don’t like being surprised by all the Raffi and children’s music that ends up interspersed! Enjoying Broken Social Scene, Downhere (old college friends of mine, who have just released a new album), Bjork, Feist, Stereolab – the usual.

Newest Blog Reads and/or Internet Interest

  • Dahlhaus – dear (yet far-flung) friend of ours who’s career as an artist has been advancing in leaps and bounds!
  • My photographer husband, who is starting to embrace the marketing necessity of blogging (many great new posts to come).
  • MelbourneMumma – another mom with lots of inspiring ideas and images.
  • Other people who do similar types of art, such as artandtreasure, serendipity, knit the hell out (love that “vision” sweater thing! I hope I find time to knit this year), phrogmom, and more!

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month:

  • My dear little almost 4-yr-old, so proud to be dressed like mommy (and my 2-yr-old oblivious of the point of the photo).

    The beginning of autumn, my favourite season – the crisp air, the morning mist that crouches over the riverbank where I work, apples from the orchard, curry, stuffed pumpkins, preschool (for my daughter), flannel sheets, fall leaves, purple asters. For me, autumn is like New Year’s Eve for some – I am often struck by a sense of renewal and artistic inspiration.

  • My beautiful daughter’s fourth birthday next week. Watching her grow and learn to print, read, be kind. It is so much fun being a mom.
  • A welcome return of Saturday brunches with friends…look forward to reconnecting with lots of you!
  • A short trip to Victoria later in the month.
  • Lots of fall events at work, which I am planning and designing ads, posters and promotional material for.

Deep forest

Today we returned to the place where Curtis took pictures of me at about 38 weeks pregnant. Here I am carrying her still, but on the outside. I loved getting back to this natural place that was so inspiring to me during the pregnancy and birth.