Spring at Last – but When is the Weekend?

Spring is really and truly here. The proof is:

  • snow and ice gone
  • up to double-digit temperatures in the daytime
  • the raucous noise of spring peepers at night
  • spring flowers bursting through the ground
  • budding apple trees
  • greening grass
  • garlic shoots appearing
  • glorious sunshine

Larry and I are sprucing things up by:

  • raking up garden debris
  • weeding the many flower beds
  • hooking up the garden water collection system
  • planting seedlings in the greenhouse
  • tidying up the studio for visitors (please email to make sure we’re home ;) floradoehler@gmail.com )
  • cutting back invasive prickly wild roses (but leaving some for the gorgeous smell and for bird habitat)

It’s so wonderful for the heart and soul to be outside again; even when the work is hard on the body! Thankfully a nice soak in a hot bath with epsom salts is a great way to start the new day and the next round of digging, raking, lifting, reaching, bending. And I am in a race against the black flies – trying to get as much done before they all wake up in a couple of weeks and turn this sense of freedom into an endurance test.

Oh, and also did a load of laundry today.

Oh, and also washed a load of laundry today.

Rows of garlic for me and my friends.

Rows of garlic for me and my friends.

Tulips are growing in the greenhouse.

Tulips are growing in the greenhouse.

The spinach seed was sprinkled last fall. It sprouted 4 leaves and then sat there hibernating in the unheated greenhouse all winter. Three weeks ago it started growing again!

The spinach seed was sprinkled last fall. It sprouted 4 leaves and then sat there hibernating in the unheated greenhouse all winter. Three weeks ago it started growing again!

Two week old seedlings.

Two week old seedlings.

Having a tea and muffin break with the new chairs.

Having a tea and muffin break.

"Is this where I cut the eaves and attach another elbow?"

“Is this where I cut the downspout and attach another elbow?”

The water system will be tucked behind the studio.

The water system is tucked behind the studio.

There are lots of frogs and peepers signing their deafening sound every night at the pond.

There are lots of frogs and peepers signing their deafening sound every night at the pond.

At the same time,Larry is selecting enamelled jewellery for The Flight of Fancy in Bear River, for Catfish Moon in Annapolis Royal and for Blue Fin in Digby.

I’m grabbing time to paint bouquets of store-bought beautiful tulips while I impatiently wait for ours to bloom. I need to finish paintings for sale at The Flight of Fancy in Bear River and for Catfish Moon in Annapolis Royal as well as the Art Sales and Rental Gallery in Halifax.

Enamel bracelet with bronze and copper. © Larry Knox. $80

Enamel bracelet with bronze and copper. © Larry Knox. $80

Brass bracelet. © Larry Knox $65.

Brass bracelet. © Larry Knox $65.

I love this translucent glaze on this bracelet. © Larry Knox. Copper, enamel, semi-precious stone, bronze. $80.

I love this translucent glaze on this bracelet. © Larry Knox. Copper, enamel, semi-precious stone, bronze. $80.

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Sitting Tall Oil Painting © Flora Doehler, 2014 12" x 12" $250

Sitting Tall
Oil Painting © Flora Doehler, 2014
12″ x 12″ $250

The love affair with red tulips continues.

The love affair with red tulips continues.

We are busy, busy, busy and someone told us today that it’s not only the weekend; it’s the long weekend. It sure is!

I hope you are having blue skies too!

Tempting the Pond Spirits

It was a glorious day today. The temperature climbed to 15 celsius and a lot more of the snow melted.

The birds are outside all day singing their hearts out.

Larry and I made ourselves mugs of Sissiboo Coffee and went for a stroll around the yard and over to the pond. I’m impatient with how slow the thick sheet of ice is and I started poking at it….first with my foot….which made my boot wet.

melt1

Then I threw a big rock at it, but it wouldn’t pierce the ice.

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Then I whacked it with a stick, but the stick broke.

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Larry suggested that the pond was sending me a message to back off and that just maybe I should give it up.

But I felt very determined and stubborn and intrigued with the idea of pushing that huge sheet of ice. So I did. With my broken stick.

But with my final shove, I slipped forward, and skidded on the wet bank, fell forward and was suddenly soaked up to my waist in chilly pond water. It happened so quickly that the cold water wasn’t even shocking. Larry and I laughed and I agreed with him that the pond was more stubborn than I was.

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So today I learned that I shouldn’t tempt the pond spirits; especially without a wet suit.

Just a few days ago, I filmed this scene of a flock of robins around the pond. You can see how much has melted in that short time. You can hear them and the mourning doves in the background.

 

TV Confessions

The last time I wrote, I was preparing for a wonderful show of watercolours in Bear River which proved to me again that organizing a pop-up art show is a very worthwhile venture.

Watercolours © Flora Doehler

Watercolours © Flora Doehler

It led to an invitation to show work in March at the Women’s Place in Annapolis Royal, which I was delighted to do.

paintings by Flora Doehler

International Women’s Day at the Women’s Place in Annapolis Royal, 2014.

But the very next day, I got sick and am just now coming to the end of a 3 week-long date with Netflix, cold remedies, lots of soup and, theoretically, winter.

bedroom

My home for the last 3 weeks.

I say that because winter just goes on and on and on and the weather gods are predicting a ‘weather bomb’ of tons of snow on Wednesday. And by the way, when did scary military language sneak into weather reports?

So March has been a blur and a total deviation from my usual routines. I survived the past few weeks by watching TV shows on Netflix. I watched season 2 of House of Cards which I found a little too dark and cynical (is EVERYONE a psychopath or on the take?) although I loved watching the villainous Kevin Spacey.

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Get-better-soon roses from a thoughtful friend.

I watched the Bletchley Circle….a crime solving British drama set in the 1950′s about women code-breakers who work outside of the law. What I love about British drama is…everything. The acting and the sets and costumes are always superb. For me, the best part of the show was taking a close look at the clothing. Those Brits have such attention to detail so all the clothing was wool or cotton or linen and the prints were consistent with the period.

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I was too tired to paint standing up and it was back to bed for a week after this.

Now I’m hooked on the Good Wife, an American lawyer drama show that centers around a kind, pretty woman with children who is married to a philandering, sketchy politician husband. It’s very predictable and I’ve wondered what it is that draws me in (and apparently, many others). I think it’s that the lawyer, Alicia, is kind, thoughtful, compassionate, but also super assertive in the courtroom and doesn’t take crap from anyone. Somehow in my weakened state, she became my Goddess Hygieia; battling the flu demons with me.

Hygeia by Gustav Klimt, 1907.

Hygeia by Gustav Klimt, 1907.

My on-the-ground helper was my dear Larry who did double duty as artist and as a very attentive caregiver. Besides the endless trays of food and drinks, the laundry, the dishes and the red tulips, he worked in the studio on a new line of gorgeous bracelets AND gave an enamel workshop.

yellow bracelet

Enamel, stones and silver bracelet by Larry Knox.

bracelet

Enamel, stones and bronze bracelet by Larry Knox.

But all good things must come to an end. ;) I’ve felt pretty good the last couple of days and feel my energy and strength returning. And so, by the way, do the plants outside. In spite of the snow and more snow, there is spinach coming up in the greenhouse as well as a few tulip bulbs pushing their way out of the soil.

spinach

Spinach growing in the unheated greenhouse.

After Wednesday’s ‘weather bomb’  we’ll be totally ready for spring. Better late than never, eh?

food tray

Reading The Golden Notebook for the Bear River Book Club meeting.

Snow, Music and Art – Feb 14-16

This weekend will be an exciting one in Bear River. It’s our Winter Carnival - entirely organized by volunteers with no funding for an organizer. I mention this for the benefit of readers from communities, cities who have money for staff for public events. Bear River doesn’t. So, everything here happens because a couple of friends get an idea and talk others into participating. Sue Comeau is the driving force behind the event.

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The carnival started out seven years ago as a cross-country ski trip (over 7 lakes), a bit of snowman building and a hand-made skating rink behind the Legion. It’s morphed into a cultural extravaganza that includes a 5 k run, a dance, a concert with Acres and Acres, and a whole lot of Art.

There is a group art show called “Fairy Tales and Fables”, and I am still working on my entry…

Untitles and Unfinished 24" x 30"

Untitled and Unfinished
24″ x 30″

…..as so is Larry working on his

Also Untitled and Unfinished and Really, Really Big.

Also Untitled and Unfinished and Really, Really Big.

That show will be at the Oakdene and all the artists’ studios will be open all weekend.

And did I mention that I’m having a show too? Well, I am.

Art - Hearts and Flowers
I have 20 years of watercolours that I need to release to new homes. It’s been quite a crazy week sorting through them all. It’s kind of like going through old photos because I have stories and memories associated with most of them. That’s what happens when you paint from life.

And the crazy part is that there are hardly any flowers. That’s because ‘nature’ for me used to be a woodland we owned on a tiny lake in Ontario. Larry and I and our kids camped there for many summers and I painted that scene and it’s variations many times over.

So, if you’re in the area, please come to a concert and a few art shows and come for a ski too.

I’ll be at the Rebekah Gallery downstairs along with the fabulous improvising poem/art duo of Skafte and Shishkov. We’ll be there the whole time (because in Bear River there’s no paid gallery staff either ;) ) We’ll have Sissiboo Coffee and my homebaked goodies on Sat and Sun afternoon for you.

Here is a video of some of the work I’ll be hanging:

You can read more about it on my art website.

A Painting and a Weather Report

Yesterday I finished my first big painting of 2014 and sent it and a few others to Halifax with Larry. If any are chosen, they will join the other paintings I have at the Art Sales and Rental Gallery next door to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

First painting of 2014!

First painting of 2014!

"Through Rose Coloured Glasses I see the World."

“Through Rose Coloured Glasses I see the World.”

The Gallery has been a fantastic place for me to show my work. The staff couldn’t be nicer or more helpful. Quite a few paintings have been rented out or have sold. Nova Scotia has been so good for me in terms of my growth as a painter and for that I am very grateful.

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The Art Sales and Rental Gallery has huge walls that slide out to hold all the paintings.

And yesterday the world was green, and this morning it was white. What a difference a day makes.

The pond was frozen a couple of weeks ago and will be again soon. The temperature is supposed to dip to 10-C by the end of the week.

The pond was frozen a couple of weeks ago and will be again soon. The temperature is supposed to dip to 10-C by the end of the week.

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It was so quiet outside this morning that I could hear the snow falling off the trees.

Yesterday I expected to hear froggies!

Yesterday I expected to hear froggies!

The twigs in the foreground are raspberry canes that I planted a couple of years ago. I think this is the summer they will produce. Can't wait!

The twigs in the foreground are raspberry canes that I planted a couple of years ago. I think this is the summer they will produce. I hope so!

What a wonderful world. I am living in a fairy tale.

The to-and-fro of Love

A reader asked how to handle the separation of moving away from “children”? It’s a fantastic question because it’s a heart-issue for so many people who move here. For me, six years later, I know that I never resolve this one completely.

Camping on Brier Island with Emily and Larry and I.

Camping on Brier Island with Emily and Larry and me.

When you love someone – a partner, offspring, relatives, friends, you want to be near them, right? Everyone has to work out that problem of separation themselves and I have yet to find an easy way.

You have to settle for Skype, phone calling, emailing, chatting and as many back-and-forth visits as you can afford. We’ve been super lucky that our kids are good communicators so we are in touch often.  They have been here enough that they know the terms of reference when we talk about village life and people. We have a genuine interest in their life paths so we are always available to listen. Sometimes we Skype and we all drink tea and show each other what we are working on. I can’t wait until someone invents a transporter machine so we can have cups of tea together.

Skyping from Vancouver.

Skyping from Vancouver.

Skyping from Toronto

Skyping from Toronto

But how did we get to the point where we could move away? For starters, we viewed it as moving to. Moving to a place where our spirits and souls could thrive. We had devoted 30 years to parenting 2 beautiful souls and the time was overdue for me and Larry to find a community of creative types in a beautiful rural setting. We tried finding “Bear River” in Ontario, but it didn’t appear for us.

Skyping with Jesse

Skyping with Jesse

Our kids both love the vibrancy of living in cities.  They indulge in their creativity when they visit us here and view Bear River as a lovely, but temporary retreat so it’s unlikely they would ever move here. And for us the need to be here in a rural setting is very strong.

Skyping from Germany.

Skyping from Germany.

We miss each other, we love each other, but we are all where we want and need to be right now. And all of us are pretty happy with our choices.

Jesse cuts metal and creates some jewellery.

Jesse cuts metal and creates some jewellery.

Parting gift.

Parting gift.

We  love our thirty-something year old kids, and we love spending time with them. Distance and missing them can hurt. That’s a difficult part of parental love.  But it’s also important for us to let them separate and to establish their own lives and identity.

Christmas view where Jesse and I sat in the snow and talked about life.

Christmas view where Jesse and I sat in the snow and talked about life.

I wish I had a better answer, but I don’t. Certainly your end destination must meet some profound unfulfilled needs to fill the gap of distance from family. Let’s talk about that in the next post. ;)

Poem and Painting about Emily leaving by Scarfe and Shischkov.

Poem and Painting about Emily leaving by street artists Skafte and Shishkov.