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Archive for May, 2011

The weather has been so cold and rainy that we’re still working

the large urns, May 2011

on getting all the spring garden chores done. I was only able to get to the urns and barrels planted this past week. We chose to keep things simple on the urns. Trying to put anything in them other than the spikes and a trailing edger hasn’t worked out so well in the past. They survive, but never seem to grow so they just look spindly and sad. This year, I just decided to accept it and not even try. The result is that we have gone with an extra large large spike in their centres and then just a ring of the golden-toned Creeping Jenny plants around the edges. I like the golden-green colour against the black of the urns and they tend to develop nice long trailing tendrils. I’m hopeful that they are not too tender to stand up to the heat and full sun all the urns get. We’ve had so much rain that I haven’t had to worry about watering so far, but we’ll keep an eye on them if/when the cool rainy weather ever stops.

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We had a hectic morning yesterday. We were the first stop on a day tour

tour group in front of the shop

of the Stratford area organised by the Ontario Crafts Council. Just after 10am, a group of forty arrived on our doorstep! Half got to go out and take a look around town while the other half filled the shop. (and yes, we can fit twenty people in at one time, but it was a bit of squeeze) I talked about the masks and my process and then answered questions. Then that group headed off to the next stop and I did it again for the second half. Many of the attendees are also crafters and artists, working in assorted mediums. It’s always fun to talk with people who have an awareness of what is involved in creating hand-crafts and appreciated the work that goes into it. It’s not the sort of thing I’d like to be doing every day, since public speaking is always somewhat stressful but it was fun overall. I’m also glad that that, while it wasn’t sunny, we didn’t have the called-for wild thundering downpours either so they had a chance to take a look around and get an idea of all the things Shakespeare has to offer.

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Last year Mother came home with, what I eventually discovered

Naturecraft chalkware figurine, "Celebration"

to be a English chalkware piece. I’d never seen one before it so I was especially surprised when she found us another one this year! It’s title is “Celebration”. This piece is a bit bigger than our first one, which has since found a new home, and has two figures. It looks like the hobo subjects are typical of their pieces. This one is also sweet and funny with him pouring his drink into her less-than-glamorous shoe. The quality of the sculpture is excellent and I love how much personalty and charm the figures have. (it’s also fully decorated all the way around so it can be displayed in a free-standing space) Just like the first one, I don’t expect it to be around for long, but it has been fun to have them pass through on their way.

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Water

I’ve been working my way through a set of custom masks for Colleen

Elemental mask series: Water

at the Weird Sisters Garden. Last week at her opening she posted some pictures in one of the group. They will be the four Elements and this is Water. (Earth is my Summer Queen, Fire is done and I’m still working on Air) The design of the piece was inspired by the large over-sized brooch that is in the centre of the forehead. I loved how it had the right palette of colours and a shape that is reminiscent of coral. (and that I could also match more rhinestones to it on the rest of the face) The lace that flanks it had a perfectly fin-like frill shape as well. The larger side fins had to be hand-built, but I’m very happy with how they came out. It’s supposed to be a show piece so it is a bit more dramatic than I typically make but it turned out so well it was hard to hand over. At least I can go and visit it now and then!

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While we haven’t put in any bird feeders or boxes there are quite a number

Mourning dove chick

who nest around here. Robins, grackles, starlings and mourning doves are the most noticeable ones. I was working on getting some framing done yesterday and was a surprised to find this young visitor hanging out on the balcony. I’m guessing somebody’s flying practice didn’t go that well. I could see one of the concerned parents was watching from a power-line above so, aside from a quick nip up to grab the photo, I left them alone to get everyone back where they should be. They were both back out of sight a couple of hours later so I’m hopeful that the return to the nest was a success. I’m not sure how many of the mourning doves we have around but now we know there is at least one breeding pair. I think there may be more, but that may just be because the ones we have are so very loud that is seems like there must be several pairs. (or maybe just that their calls are one of the easiest to identify)

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When we had the sewer connection made for the house,

sour cherry flowers, May 2011

the poor, much battered (it had apparently been run over at least once) spruce tree, to the west of the front peony bed came out. It being gone, as well as the mess from the dig, meant we’ve got quite a bit to do in terms of landscaping. We finally got going in this past week of good weather. (the first one so far this season!!) We’ve put in a replacement tree, not in exactly the same place but a bit better centred. It’s a sour cherry and a self-pollinator, so it should be just fine on it’s own. It’s leaves are unfurling and the heat, along with even more rain had the flowers starting to open. We choose it for it’s fruit, but I love the look of it’s pretty white flowers! (and they have a lovely scent, unlike the plum tree flowers, that while good-looking, are kinda stinky) I think it’s unlikely that we’ll get much in the way of harvest this season, but maybe just enough for a cherry tart.

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We’re reaching the start of the main “tourist” season

Winter King mask

here in Shakespeare and with that comes a new shop in town! The lovely people of Brew Garden Cafe are opening a store in the cottagey building (former home to the Scary Guy pet store) behind the cafe. It’s called The Weird Sister’s Garden and it’s focus is on metaphysical gifts and supplies. They will open the doors for the first time tomorrow, Saturday the 14th. (the official “Grand Opening” will likely be later in the summer) I was able to get a sneak peek around and it’s just lovely! She’s got some of the delicious teas from the Cafe available for purchase as well as great scented candles, including a custom blended one and incense. There is a broad mix of other items celebrating a wide range of spiritual paths, from home decor, functional pieces like glass wares, artwork as well as ritual supplies and books. (and some appropriately themed masks) She has a great selection and makes a terrific addition to the Shakespeare shopping experience!

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