Monthly Archives: July 2009

Weekend of beautiful things.

Some beautiful things spotted on our weekend in the Annapolis Valley.

Queen Anne’s Lace. What a lovely and evocative name.

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This green never ceases to amaze me. Greener than green.

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Then to market! We ran out of money or we would have bought one of these lovely bunches of garlic. I hope we can find some again as last year local garlic was in short supply.

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A jolly red boat in Margaretsville / Margaretville, whichever it is.

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And a  great view.

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Walking was a bit treacherous, but sometimes it’s good to look down.

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The freezer arrives!

We are very excited about our new freezer which finally arrived today! In an attempt to continue local eating into the winter we want to freeze fruit and veg bounty to fill in the gaps in the colder months. While I was at the library gathering books for my class next week, I borrowed a book on freezing. And then did this:

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Look at these little fellows! I missed making strawberry jam, which annoys me slightly, but I am glad I was able to freeze a box of the last ones.

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I imagine pulling these out sometime in February….. Also enthusiastically  froze arugula and rainbow chard.

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A language of lines

I wanted to write about maps. To write about the language of lines – the literacy skills I practiced while in Devon on our honeymoon. There is something splendid about finding your way on a map, carefully navigating along the lines of a wall, or track, or path. It is not straight country over there (I suppose it never is!) and the boundaries of fields, the hedges, walls and ways are all wobbly with history.

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This affinity I had with my map…… partly, I know, it’s due to the joy of walking. With each walk, I become more familiar with the map and feel the land spreading out in my head. I have this notion that in walking I am stitching together the country in my memory and allowing areas to attach to other areas and fill in the blanks spaces. The notion of public rights of way and walking is very different in England than in Canada, which I’m sure is no surprise. We have so much more wild space – which is beautiful in its own way, of course, and wonderful to walk in. But in England (or I should say Devon, since that is my only real experience) the Ordnance Survey map is peppered with little green dotted lines that are the public footpaths. They join together villages and towns, or ramble over the moor land from tor to tor. In some cases the paths wend their way right through a farm yard, and feel so private that at first it takes a bit of nerve to continue through. What is so fascinating about these rights of way is that they exist simply because people have used them, and have always used them. (not the public fitness initiative kind of thing we sometimes have!) It’s all tied up in history. I read somewhere that if a landowner blocks a path and the blockage remains uncontested, the right of way can be lost after a period of time. So in a sense, walking is a statement, an assertion of the right. For me it is also about maintaining a relationship my “ancestral country”. In the future, when my grandmother is gone and I have no other ties to the region, I feel as though knowing the area intimately, in the way you do through walking, will still allow me to feel that connection.

But back to the “literacy of lines”  I mentioned. It occurred to me that this fascination should not surprise me. It’s an interest I find time and time again in different areas, especially creatively. Always, for me, it is about “leaning the language”. In art I suppose we say “vernacular”. Take knitting for example. Knitting has it’s own set of techniques, it’s traditions and histories. The way you create in knitting is my exploring it’s systems.  It really is as though you are leaning a language, and as you learn you try and “say” something and see how eloquently you can express yourself! I seem to thrive creatively within this kind of system, and delight in learning the grammatical rules! Think origami. It may seem like a stretch, but to me map reading is like this – leaning the language of the map  and then “saying”  something, voicing something, when I walk it in real life.

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An opportunity to “make good”.

A beautiful bouquet picked for us by my mother and some lovely evening light spilling into our spare room.

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An opportunity to “make good” my good intentions to be more creative on a daily basis. I don’t draw – the only time I made a practice of it was when I was at NSCAD. But I know that was good for me, and it was fun too! So though I am woefully out of practice, and unlikely to make anything I would be pleased with,  I set to work!

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Am only sharing the results, you understand, as proof that I did some drawing! I used mostly oil pastels.  Really should have more regular dates  with the old sketch book – I enjoyed myself.

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Dragons and Chameleons

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A few more gems from Bookworms In The Studio. A pretty good week, when all was said and done. Now, did I cut out heads and tails so the kids could all make dragons?? Yes, I admit I did, and I admit it’s a little prescriptive. But we used a number of different techniques that I think the kids really enjoyed, and there was lots of creativity and individuality. Pastels and paint and sponge and cork painting. We also experimented with tissue paper and watered down glue for colour with transparency, layered with markers, and finally some streamers and more tissue (this time with glue sticks). Lots of unique dragons!

This child really came into her element with this dragon (and on the last day!) Usually quite shy and conservative, she took to this with great gusto, and showing some strong creative ideas. Incidentally, the book we read before this was Tikki Tikki Tembo – a great favourite. We also made paper lanterns…… yes, I was getting a bit “crafty”, but it was fun to do after seeing the illustrations in the book.

On our last day we also read A Color of His Own about a chameleon, then I gave the kids lots of different coloured plasticine. (Tip: I discovered when using plasticine with small children to put it in a bowl of warm water before hand, to soften it up. You can easily dry it on paper towl, and it’s much easier for small hands to work.) It’s interesting to see the kid negotiate between two and three dimensions, each taking their own approach. Here are two of my (dare I say it? ) favourite chameleons.

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“I’m done”

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“I’m done.” This is an interesting thing that happens – we start work on a project and within a very short time a kid will announce that he is done. I say “a kid” but mostly it is “the kid”. Every group has a child who is always finished before anybody else. And with one kid, I suppose, it’s not much of an issue, but it does tend to unleash a bit of an avalanche of I’mdones coming one after the other. I’m sure I could read about this (maybe I will) but I’ve just been pondering it today. One the one hand I like to respect that each child is an individual and could easily just be done faster, or not be interested in what we’re doing, or something like that. And in the interest of keeping the classroom running smoothly I often have an area set up for children after the activity. (“You can go work with blocks on the carpet until we are ready to go on to the next thing.”) But I also want to convey that spending time on something is valid. Sometimes we work on things, sometimes we think about it a bit longer, and sometimes (most times!) it isn’t “best” to be done in record time. In practice my approach is really to encourage this. Fairly early one I identify the kid that is always done and for them I generally say ” We are going to be working with clay for a while so you can either work some more or you can sit with us and watch your friends.” I then I follow it up with some comment or idea about their work. Mostly this works. Just makes me wonder – is the “I’m done” thing I natural kid thing, or does it have something to do with their environment.  We often have this idea that children have shorter attention spans, but maybe part of it has to do with not expect them, or giving them the opportunity to spend time on things?

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More Bookworms

Classes are going well! I’m very tired but am enjoying working with kids again. A few things to share….

I like this child’s colour choices:

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We made a contact paper and scrap fabric “houses map” after a quilt in the folk art show and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. This is such a great collaborative project as the children always work so well together on this and the excitement (sticky paper is unbelievably attractive) makes for a really positive creative experience. Nice to see them working together and complimenting each other on their houses. Also lots of interest in  grass (all the green bits).

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I also want to share with you some foxes.

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This one is dizzy:

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We read The Little Wood Duck and then worked with clay. I like to keep the clay experience pretty open, and it’s more about manipulation at this stage, but a few animals were formed. Notably the dizzy fox from the story.

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