Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday's "Musement - Adrift

When I'm focused, I can move mountains and when I'm not.... I drift.

Drifting from task to task, room to room, flitting like a butterfly in summer garden.

Today I ventured into my studio. I wanted to make something but didn't know what. Picked up this and that only to put them down again, the urge to create strong, but nothing compelling enough to spur me on.

As I cast a glance 'round the room I spied a little bundle of inspiration I picked up along our travels in France.

I've had a thing for driftwood since I was a toddler and everywhere I go I can't resist adding to my pile, and this trip was no exception. (When I was filling out my Customs Declaration on the plane there was no where to declare my driftwood, rocks, beach glass and seedpods - I was like a little kid with their pockets jammed full after a day outside!).

I saw a driftwood heart in a small shop and was completely enchanted with it but it was too big and too fragile to get back home. But the wheels were turning and I knew if I gathered enough, I could make my own when we got home...

It was a little fiddly and as I had a limited supply (I am definitely buying a bigger suitcase before I go on any more trips!) I had to break bigger pieces into littler ones but I am thrilled with it.
I had one flat piece that I thought I would paint something on but then these carved stone flowers called out to me...

 I just have to decide if I want to add a hanger or just display it propped on a shelf - propping is winning right now...

One of my favourite things about being away is the stack of mail waiting for me  when I get back home, and if there's a parcel or two in the mix, even better!

I saw these beautiful napkins on Dorthe's blog where she used them in one of her delightful projects, and she spent me a small packet of them - every side is different and I am so excited to play with these - lots of inspiration!
 She also included one of her beautiful tags...

There was also this beautiful greeting card from Susan at Suztats. Susan does the most amazing painting, and she also does a weekly challenge in which she stretches her painting skills. I love reading all about them and every once in a while she cuts up a canvas and makes note cards for readers.

And this little sweetie landed right before I left - Sherry from Creatology sent me this adorable little bird! Cheery and sweet, and a pretty yellow - a perfect little bird to perch right beside my work table and remind me summer is indeed here!

Thank you ladies. I am so grateful you were kind enough to send me these treasures!

And finally, I've caught up my tally for May just in time to say goodbye to June as well - neither month is going to be good for my goals but vacations and gardens get in the way of things sometimes!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

That Time Already!?!

This weekend it was brought to my attention that it was that time already...
Time to start thinking about my Sale - November really isn't that far away and the "To Do List" gets longer every year.
My ever so helpful mother and daughter suggested this year I have a theme; it would give me something to focus on design-wise and might be a fun way to keep me inspired...

So here she is!

I found this vintage postcard in the town of St. Mere Eglise and I think she's perfect. 
I can see all manner and styles of angels interpreted in many ways.

And to round things out, and play with the part of my mind that always thought I should study architecture...

 The images above and below will help with the finer details and embellishments.

I must admit Mom and Laura, you were right!
The ideas are rolling faster than I can jot them down - everything from the invitations to the food to the packaging to the thank yous.

And to my manager, Glenda - yes I know...

things to sell as well!

Friday, June 17, 2011

High Ideals

And so we are home.

Home from our great adventure and so very happy to be here, where we belong.
Home is where the heart is?

You bet, but if I am truthful, I have left a good part of my heart over there.

I read once that one of the great sorrows of life is that we have but one life to live.

In so many of the places we were, it was easy to sit a weave a tale of a different life, lived there: which house would be my house, my cafe, the boulanger that would bake my daily baguette to perfection, what would be the perfect bench on the river, creek, or stream for sketching, writing or just sitting and building another perfect daydream...

But this is a good place to be, and in it's own perfection, requires no daydreaming at all.

The past few days have been busy with all the joys of coming home. 
Unpacking small treasures, reacquainting myself with my garden and my sewing room - happy puttering.

I realize I never did post about any of my finds along the way (except of course, The Scarf), but I certainly found a few. And I made it to a real life French Brocante and managed to get through all the tables before the torrential rain started - so I consoled myself at a lovely cafe with a carafe of wine though… 

 I found this piece of lace in a Brocante-Antiquities store in Brittany,

along with this map


I swear we drove on every road!

the perfect cafe au lait bowl, showing just enough wear to give it character

a perfectly shaped, perfectly grey pottery heart from Lourmarin, where I left my own

and the jackpot was in Dieppe, when I got to spend half an hour and some saved up Euro on these

I am so in love with the laces and trims I found there; they are everything I hoped for, steeped in the colours and styles I dreamt of.

Now I am home with them, all safe and sound, and I realize just how very little there is; I am afraid to begin - anxious to create with them but afraid of messing up, wanting to make something beautiful but the knowledge there is no more is weighing heavy on me as I wait for the ideas to flow.
After all, I can't just run down the street and get more.

High ideals waiting for the perfect idea...

And I am so very glad to be back - I have missed all of you!
Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments that you have left while I was on my journey. I will be spending the next month catching up with all of you, to see what adventures you yourselves have been on.

As my grandmother used to say, "Isn't life just grand!?"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Special Day

Thirty-seven years ago the man pictured below came into my life..

Please meet Harold, my Mom's husband. I should also probably say "My Step-Father" but I hesitate to call him that as he has truly been a father to me.

He is one of the most caring and considerate people you could ever hope to know and generous to a fault. 

 I've always loved posts that begin "10 Random Things I Love About..." and I think that might be a fun way of celebrating some of that which is Harold....
 so here we go, in no particular order:

1. He grows the best tomatoes in the world and gives both plants and tomatoes themselves to everyone, and I mean everyone.

2. He is the only person I know that has ever grown a yellow tomato that looked exactly like a rubber duck - it was hilarious!

3. He loves to buy lottery tickets and plan how he will share with all seven of the kids in our family if he wins the big one.

4. He loves to meet new people and is the first one to offer them a beer - always.

5. He will help anybody do anything, and even then, he's the first to offer the beer!

6. He's handy with a hammer and can build just about anything my Mom can dream up, as long as she stays out of the way and lets him do it the way he wants. (sorry Mom, but it's true!)

7. He's willing to have His and Her's gardens to keep the peace and tranquility of the neighbourhood intact!

8. He loved my kids from the first day and is The Best Grandpa Ever. 

9. He can polish your car to perfect shine.

10. He makes my Mom happy.

Happy 81st birthday Harold!!

Love and Hugs, Jill

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Have you ever Flunched?

If you've ever come to France,
I have a hunch you may have Flunched.
I think you may have Flunched a bunch,
If you like to munch on lunch..

In the early days of our visit to France we stumbled upon Flunch and I have to say, it's pretty darn good.

Flunch is a French cafeteria, but one with a lot of French style - you can get wine!

You can order hot "plats" or main dishes,

there is a salad bar, various cheese plates, charcuterie (preserved meats), mini baguettes,

dessert bar, fruit bar,

and a beverage bar, complete with beer and wine!

We went about four times, throughout the course of our trip; it was easy when you're travelling as you know what you're getting and can get back on the road quickly (eating in France's cafes and restaurants can be a slow process!).

In Dieppe, we went to Flunch for lunch and it was a most entertaining one at that.

Halfway through my own "Flunch" I noticed some interesting activity at a table close by….

In France, Sunday lunch with family is the most important meal of the week and is a full blown "affaire", sometimes enjoyed at home, sometimes in a restaurant, and sometimes, it seems, at Flunch.

An older family of four had come to Flunch for lunch and although they were in a cafeteria-style restaurant, there are some things about the French family meal that are de rigeur and not to be given up…

The four of them were busy foraging through the cafeteria for the meal; they were doing it separately, each with their own set of responsibilities. I know this because out of the corner of my eye I saw them each going to and fro bringing various components of the meal:

Maman was in charge of dessert and I watched her bring the tray and carefully place each one just to the side of each place setting, (I never did see which member of the family set the table)

Papa brought the cheese plate and several small baguettes to be shared

The son carefully arranged the required coffee cups in stacks in the centre - small handleless ones for espresso, cups and saucers for Grand Creme, as well as the carafes of water

Wine and the appropriate glasses appeared while I wasn't watching, and as we were leaving the "plats" began to arrive.

I'm not normally snoopy but I couldn't help myself; every component was carefully arranged with absolutely no discussion - they'd done this before. And while they might have been in a serve-yourself cafeteria, they were not sacrificing any of their requirements of a lovely family  Sunday lunch together.

There was something oddly touching about it; perhaps it was the seriousness with which they attended to each task, or perhaps it was how they ensured they had a complete meal assembled before they sat down. The behaviour seemed so quintessentially French to me; the whole meal and nothing less would do.

In many ways, it was the most wonderful thing I saw on this journey of ours; family and food and ritual, all intertwined.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Giverny and the Tale of the Scarf Stalker

I haven't yet picked up a paintbrush on this trip - we haven't landed in one place long enough for creative pursuits, but I have certainly been inspired.

One of the highlights of this Tour de France of ours was a visit to Giverny, home of Claude Monet.

As we walked the street of this small village just north of Paris it was easy to see how he was inspired; the hills and trees and grasses are varying shades of green while the haze from the sun works it's magic, blending and softening until the separate become whole. The green is punctuated here and there with colour, sometimes soft, sometimes vivid and everywhere you look becomes a painting.

There were scores of people in line for tickets to tour his house and gardens so we took the road less traveled and found a shady cafe for our morning cafe grand creme, all the while taking in the surrounding charm. Everywhere you look there are flowers, and although it truly is that way everywhere in France, all the vistas here just seem to become a work of art.
a white gate, with the requisite rose bush climbing up one side

the cutest art gallery ever

another white gate, with red roses this time

poppies in the grass at the museum, in front of the hill Monet and others often painted

a cafe, ready for dejeuner

Walking the streets of the village, being where he had been, having cafe at the hotel he made famous in a painting, seeing the hills and gardens he saw were more than enough. I would very much have liked to see his garden but not when I am vying for a spot with literally hundreds of people, and besides, I had another mission...

Yes, I am the Scarf Stalker.

It went like this:

Sitting in the cafe, contentedly sipping my coffee while watching the world go by, when a couple came walking down the street. I say couple because I know there were two people and they were walking arm in arm but I have no idea if the second person was a he or a she - never looked at him at all.

She however, was lovely, dressed in white: trim white pants with a simple white t-shirt, lovely bag over her shoulder (no clue on the shoes), it was all a perfect foil for her scarf - ooh la la what a scarf! 

it was an Impressionist painting interpreted in fabric. Stunning.

I thought it was so perfect considering where we were and admired the freshness of it, popping off her white attire, loosely tied, just so.

A short time later, the same couple came strolling back and there was that scarf again, looking more perfect than before.
As I sat there wishing on a star that I had one just like it I realized there was a possibility that she had found it here, in Giverny, a village devoted to Impressionism.... the village had several little galleries and ateliers, but not too many... it wouldn't take long to peek in and see if by chance, they had scarves just like hers...

I never said a word about it but started peeking in here and there, quickly scanning for a display of soft materials...

A gift shop here, a boutique there...

Et voila!

It didn't take long and there it was, in the museum gift shop.

Now to find something white... I just need to find a cafe to park myself in and wait to see what I can see....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Memory Lane Monday


Donna at Brynwood Needleworks said we have until Monday June 6 to link up for Memory Lane Mondays and that's when I decided to do this post after all.

 I say after all, because I had thought perhaps I was posting about war too much - but, after reading her post, I thought perhaps I should - especially because her Memory post references Memorial Day...

June 6 is an important day in world history - June 6, 1944.

D Day

We have spent the last few days reflecting heavily on Operation Overlord, the "Debarquement" and it has been a sad reflection indeed. But also a proud one.
We have seen Juno Beach, Utah and Pointe du Hoc...

Today we went to Omaha.

A diplomat from the British Foreign Office once told me Juno Beach (the Canadian landing site in Normandy) was a peaceful place, where the memorial and the beach connect, and the town of Courseilles-Sur-Mer is steps away. 
An unassuming place, where the way to the beach is as you would have found it even before the war, and the museum rises out of the dunes just behind it, respectful, very Canadian. He was right.

He said Omaha is sad.

The cemetery is on the beachhead, high above the sand and crashing surf. 
It is the most meticulously cared for cemetery and memorial I have ever seen, and it is by far the saddest.

We came up the stairs from the Information Centre, turned the corner and stopped - everyone did. That first sight of the crosses is overwhelming, staggering.

You've just spent the past sixty minutes reading plaques and watching movies, all telling tales of heroism and sacrifice, brotherhood and patriotism, and you are feeling full of pride and glory and victory.

And reality comes at you swiftly, cutting you down, you fall to your knees and suddenly you can't catch your breath.

So many.

Row upon row upon row of white crosses, and when you think you must surely be coming to the end you realize you are but half way.

The rows of white crosses continue still.

I'm not sure how long we walked among the rows, looking at the names here and there, turning at this point, walking that way, in a daze, with no rhyme or reason to our meandering. 
But then Omaha defies rhyme and reason.

He was right again.

Sorrow and pride are big emotions, the biggest really. And they fill that cemetery to bursting, all 172 acres of it.

The cemetery at Omaha Beach is among the most beautiful; the men and women that were laid to rest there fought for freedom, certainly, but they also fought for more than that.
They fought for a world where people could live without fear, and in their fight they showed us that great things can be achieved by many, 
by a few,
and sometimes even by one.

We Will Remember.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Walking in Our Own Footsteps

As much as this has been a trip about food and wine, and scenery and souvenirs, it has also been about history.
A small taste of the history of man…

We have been to the caves of Neolithic Man in Peche Merles and stared in awe at cave paintings that were done 25,000 years ago

Walked among the standing stones of the Megalithic Period in Brittany

Traipsed through the ruins of a Roman town in Vaisons Romaines

Climbed the battlements of a Chateau of the 13th century

Touched the timbers of a medieval village

Sat quietly in a church of the ages

Stood in awed silence at a monument of The Great War

and sat in saddened silence on the beaches of WWII

We have seen art and architecture; creations of man through time and been awed and inspired at every turn; I have the seen the best of man, and I have seen the worst.

When I read history books or walk through interpretive centres and museums I listen and read with interest the information that is presented. Archaeologists and scholars put much effort into deciphering the things of the past, interpreting and assigning meaning, endeavouring to give us insight into past lives and previous cultures. I listen with interest and am enthralled with what I see but I take it sometimes with a grain a salt.

I do that because all we really know of the past is what it chose to leave behind.