In praise of the cheap and simple

_MG_6881

I made butter earlier this month. Made butter!

I lucked into a tall glass bottle of free Dutchman Dairy whipping cream. I also got one for a good friend who likes it in her coffee, tea, breakfast and dessert. I don’t like it quite that much. It’s nice to top off a dinner party, and for fancy recipes, but in the middle of a week, especially when I’ve been making these scones on the weekends, there’s nothing quite so nice as free butter.

All these years, I’ve whipped cream cautiously, with warnings about it turning into butter at one whip too many hovering over my shoulder. Not so. It takes a lot of whipping before it starts to separate. Oooh but when it does! Something about making my own butter at home is deeply thrilling. I get excited about butter.

_MG_6754

I’ve been enjoying making these felt birds, and spending way too much time on the internet.

I love when the dishes are clean and the counters wiped, and the horizontal wooden surface of the table is cleared.

I’m still delighted with the tiny white-bellied squirrel outside the window, and all our funny pets inside.

I am so grateful to the sweet team of ladies at work who brought me groceries.

And, I’m a little excited to have one more week of relaxed convalescence, and then my bank account and I are very excited about going back to work the week after that. In the meantime, I’ll be in search of the smallest, simplest and  least expensive pleasures, with butter.

_MG_6853

the flicker (and the couch)

567

I don’t believe in being bored.

As my second week of home rest comes to a close, I’m starting to think a third week will pass before I can really get up and start living normally again. I don’t really mind; I’m trying to make the best of it. It seems okay, at this time of year, to spend countless hours in quiet reflection. The icicles outside the windows are lengthening, but so are the days. A mist hangs over the mountains, carrying a dusting of tiny snowflakes.

A week ago yesterday, something special happened. I held a real, live flicker. A beautiful creature, about the size of a football, resting soft and solid in my arms. He had bright eyes that seemed alert and curious, and strangely trusting. It was wonderful to see his exquisite plumage up close: a downy creamy belly speckled with little black heart-shaped dots, a red cheek and black throat, wings striped brown and black and orange.

What happened is this: earlier in the month, we made plans to visit my family on the coast. Despite my injury, we drove and drove, because all the plans were in place. At one point, we were stopped on the side of the road, and I saw a flicker, all puffed up, huddled in the snow under a little fir tree. Jer started towards it to make sure it was alright. As he drew nearer, it hopped/flew awkwardly a few feet. He caught it easily. We wrapped it in an old tee shirt of mine, covering its head so the dark would relax it. I held the flicker for a glorious forty minutes, gently and close, thrilled and sad and worried for it, until we rolled in at the SPCA. The lady there looked at it and it turned out to not have a broken wing, but a broken leg, right at the top. The SPCA sent us to a kind local vet that cares for wild creatures, and gave us a crate to put the flicker in. The poor bird kept loosing his balance and scrambling and though I tilted the crate to help it prop itself against a wall, I wanted nothing more than to hold it, for in my arms it had been calm. The vet said the bird wouldn’t survive in the wild and it might be kindest to euthanize. I looked at the bird, all bright eyes and healthy weight, and pleaded, then the vet said he would have to amputate. We offered to take it to the bird sanctuary near us (BEAKS Castlegar) on our way home. Then we had to continue on our way. In the car, we spun dreams of fencing a huge run in our backyard, including the porch and the maple tree and giving the flicker a life with us. The next day we called the vet to check in. The amputation never happened. The flicker didn’t make it through the night. All manner of things happened over the course of this story; I fell head over heels in love with this flicker, felt an enormous amount of responsibility for it, having taken it from the wild, and feel deep sadness for it, for a beautiful bird gone because of a broken leg, for its pain and suffering, for the shock and fear it must have felt being brought into the bright, noisy, unfamiliar world of humans. I hope that it wouldn’t have rather died in the snowbank, with what it knew all around. I hope it took some comfort in dying somewhere warm, and that maybe it felt a little bit safe, and a little bit loved.

001

We have since made a pact, Jer and I (yes, to have more flickers in our lives, but also-) to never travel when one of us is injured. Pain and a lack of mobility can really take the fun out of a trip. Still, it was very nice to see the relatives that so kindly put us up and fed us and allowed me to languish on their couches. It should probably be said again that it was very nice indeed of Jeremy to drive me out such a long way to see my family, and sit on couches with me.

The day we drove back, the coast was blanketed thick with fog. Inland, as we approached the mountains, the sky opened up vast and blue and I basked bare arms in the sun. In all fairness, it should be said that my arms got goosebumps in the shady patches and that the weather was deliciously mild on the coast, sweater or shirtsleeves weather, no coat-toque-scarf-mittens required, and that the day before, we’d spent part of a beautiful sunny afternoon at a favorite childhood beach with a friend. The way back was rich in one of my new discovered favorites of cold-winters: rime ice. It’s gorgeous. Thickly frosted trees and bushes contrasted with the deep blue sky. My other favorite around here is the alpenglow. At the end of a sunny day, snowfields light up goldenrose.

Back here on the home couch, in my nest of pillows, I am dreaming up an onion-kale-cheddar frittata, and coffee.

_MG_6886

little birds

_MG_6888

It is true, I’ll see more of this beautiful sunny day from the couch than I would if I were at work, that the big windows overlooking the lake are letting in a lot of light, that I can while away the day gazing at the changing sky and the movements of the maple tree in the wind. There is even a red squirrel that likes this tree, and leaps from branch to branch exposing its white belly.

But the joy of being out in this day, of participating in regular life under the glow of this bright sky, that must wait. You see, I’m stuck here. I don’t want to get into the details, but it involves snowboarding, an injury, swelling and deep purple bruising. Now I’m waiting, with far more T3s than I ever wanted, to heal.

I like to have something to show for myself by the end of the day.

These little birds were inspired by a beautiful bluebird made by my friend Lucy. All are hand needle-felted, with scraps of hand-dyed wool from other projects.

_MG_6889

_MG_6890

_MG_6891

_MG_6892

fresh tracks

066

Sunday morning when I got up, there were fresh little cat tracks in the new snow outside our door. Higher up the driveway, and on the bank, deer with their ungulate toes have left haphazard, crisscrossing prints. The day’s snowfall was lovely, light and constant. We snowshoed up a ridge through beautiful snow ghosted trees and then snowboarded down through deep, soft powder. It was thrilling, except that I’m not very good at snowboarding yet, and when I fell in the powder, it was hard to get up. Needless to say, the whole experience was over much too soon. I’ll be back for more powder surfing as soon as possible.

_MG_6811

The new snow really freshens up the neighborhood. Everything looks prettier iced in white, and the long dripping icicles and frozen waterfalls are exquisite. In keeping with the new year and the societal push that comes with it, I shall attempt to refresh this little blog. Somewhere along the busy and indulgently relaxing course of December, the act of writing fell by the wayside. The revival comes with an intention- several actually- because it is after all January. First, to write as often as feels good, and second, to remember that this is primarily an art blog, so if I haven’t got any new crafting to talk about, then it’s probably time to get into the studio, not just take pictures of whatever delicious distraction the kitchen may hold.

In keeping with the aforementioned course of December, nothing in particular came to life in the studio. The studio itself, however, did. I am now settled into the biggest, brightest, prettiest, coziest and best organized studio of my wee career. There will certainly be good things coming out of this.

Our cats have been predicting our departure. They always seem to run out of kibble right before we go away somewhere. Sure enough, just as the bag is dwindling, we have a trip to the coast coming up.

_MG_6865-2

559