Camping at Chilliwack Lake: nature therapy

Chilliwack Lake, BC

Chilliwack Lake, BC

This is another ode to the summer that was, the epic, endless summer of 2014 in British Columbia where the teachers’ strike added an extra 5 weeks to summer. Now that is all over but I haven’t quite caught up here on sharing my summer highlights. We went camping for a few days at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. We camped there over 10 years ago, and have hiked there a few times, but it’s been ages. It’s quite a drive past Chilliwack, and well beyond cell phone service. But it was a wonderful experience for the kids, who biked that campground every daylit moment like only a gang of 5-to-7 year olds can. They found castles and kingdoms of rock.


The lines and contrast of driftwood

A highlight for me, other than the quietness of the campground, the complete lack of mosquitoes and insects at this time of year, and the company of friends, was the hike to Lindeman Lake. It’s a beautiful turquoise lake that took about 45 minutes for us to hike up to. It’s fairly steep but I made it, despite being barely into my second trimester of pregnancy. The kids were champions. Of course it always helps when they have friends to play with and they motivate each other onward.

Hiking and camping pals

Hiking and camping pals

I love finding patterns and art that naturally occurs in nature. Check out the pattern on this drifting log:

bug paths on log

The beautiful pattern was drawn by some kind of bug, creeping around under this tree’s bark.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll mention it again: there is nothing more relaxing and fulfilling to me than time spent in nature. These pictures from another day’s hike sums it up. The icy clear water rushing over my feet just washes away the stress or difficulties of the week. And finding all those colourful rocks – honestly they aren’t that colourful when they are scattered all over the riverbed. But with a goal of making a rainbow of rocks, it’s amazing how the colours stand out.

river stones

Cold river water and brilliant river stones

So while summer is officially over, I will try to revel in it a little longer! We try to hike as much as we can, and I’m thankful that is possible almost year round here in British Columbia.


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.


patterned cloth and clothing

Day 3: Pattern – my favourite chair and my pattern-loving girl.

Pattern was easy to locate around my house, what with a six-year-old girl in the house, eating breakfast sporting a floral dress and a purple polka dot sweater. I also couldn’t help but photograph the retro pattern on my favourite chair. Day 3 of this instagram challenge was knocked off before I even left for work.


artsydefined color

Day 1: #artsydefined #color

Since I enjoyed joining in the Artsy Forager’s instagram activity this week, I thought I’d share a couple photos from each day on my blog that I took.
On Day 1, colour, I immediately thought of our overdyed rug. People who know me well know that I was obsessively shopping for one of these carpets last summer. I really wanted a turquoise one but found this green one in our price range. I like the nuances of the Persian rug pattern as they are muted by a single colour palette.

I also photographed a detail of my favourite painting, Soybean Painting, from 2005. I love the rich tones in it that were inspired by the colour of autumn soybean fields in Ontario where I am from. This painting took me about six months, coming and going, repainting and building up layers of acrylic through glazing. This was my first “big” canvas when I was learning to do mixed media.

Colour is one of my favourite art features. I am drawn to rich, saturated colours. For a while, I thought I should try some different colour palettes, but kept finding myself drawn back to warm burnt sienna and umber, gold, orange and brown. I think the earthy colours remind me of soil and the land I feel connected to as a farm girl and nature-lover.

Scenes from the farm

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My brother, Peter Duck, took these photos around the farm on the morning of our grandma’s funeral last week. They are beautiful! So I added a gallery here with his permission for you to enjoy. Some of the scenes are of my parents’ side of the farm.

Read more about my thoughts on Grandma: In Memory of Grandma

Reuse, recycle, redesign!

Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky, Densfield Oil Drums #4, Hamilton, Ontario, 1997

Perhaps inspired by my daughter’s field trip to the recycling depot last week, I’ve been more conscious than usual about things we reuse. The depot itself reminded me of the film Manufactured Landscapes, and the related photography of Edward Burtynsky. I was in art school when I got to see Burtynsky’s exhibit and watch Manufactured Landscapes, and I was awestruck by the beautiful images created from man-made materials and waste. If you haven’t had a chance to see Burtynsky’s photos, you have to check them out!


Reuse #1 – Reclaimed wood shelves

We’ve had a crafty sort of autumn around our place. My husband made these lovely shelves out of reclaimed wood, which we have been thinking about doing for a couple of years since we bought our house. I love that he figured out a way to put them up without the shelving support being visible. And I love that we were able to reuse wood that had been discarded when Fort Langley’s walls were replaced last year.

New shelves and recovered chair

Reuse #2 – Old furniture

We recently acquired some used furniture from a friend – in fact most of our furniture is reused. I discovered that reupholstering chair cushions is something a regular person like me can do – it just requires math and precision – which are not my fortĂ©, but possible if one really tries, and watches a few youtube videos.

In the process, I learned a thing or two about zippers: for one thing, sewing a zipper into a cushion cover is not that difficult. And secondly, I fixed the zipper on my Smoking Lily skirt that I’ve been wearing with safety pins for a couple years (with a slip, just in case). I spontaneously attempted fixing it last night and succeeded.

Reuse #3 – No qualms about used clothes

I have rediscovered the joy of thrift store shopping. Some of my favourite clothing pieces are from thrift stores but I haven’t really had time to shop in them since the children were
born. I’ve picked up eleven items this fall for a fraction of their worth. We also have no qualms about reusing children’s clothes and passing them on to others.

Reuse #4 – Dust rags – they make great puppets.

antique items

A few of my souveniers from the farm

Reuse #5 – Old photos and “stuff” for artwork.

All this to say I love reusing things! Next challenge: reduce acquiring stuff in the first place. One look at Burtynsky’s recycling images in China, and you’ll understand why. A lot of the stuff we recycle ends up in a pile somewhere.

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.