BOOK BUYING DAY – Although this designation is not an official one, it is a day that I observe every year. On July 21st, I always buy at least one book in memory of my older brother and best friend, John. He would be 57 years old today and would surely be reading as much now as he was when we lost him 14 years ago.
John devoured the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Steven Hawkings, Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan and anything to do with Mount Everest. He loved books by Isaac Asimov and Charles Dickens, as well as cartoons by Gary Larson and Charles Schulz. He and I would spend hours laughing at Far Side and Peanuts comics. They are still my favourites.
My brother gave me books constantly. He would show up at my door with a pile in hand. Alternately, I would buy him challenging classics like War and Peace or Moby Dick, only to have him read them in short order.
Today, John and I would have lively discussions surrounding the brain books that are my current study choices. He would love the world of computers and electronics and would still be touring the outdoor world, books in hand. His library would be ever expanding.
I look forward to this day every year as it is about honouring happy memories and remembering, with gratitude, the wonderful people with whom I was incredibly fortunate to share my family life. Although my heart has mended a little, I will always miss that tall drink of water with the big laugh who was one of my favourite people in the world.
Today I met Trudy. She admired my shoes in a Charlottetown coffee shop. I have always had trouble accepting compliments (even about my shoes) but I did appreciate her admiration of my shiny Keds.
Coffee in hand, I later spied Trudy manning her booth on the sidewalk of Queen St. Sundays are the day of the Downtown Farmer’s Market with most of the booths showcasing artisans.
I was not surprised to learn that she is an artist …. an incredibly creative one at that. Trudy’s talent is carving which is why her Cabin Fever Carving wares caught my eye.
My father was a carver for twenty-five years and won many ribbons and prizes for his work. He carved mostly decorative decoys so I grew up in a world of blocks of tupelo, sawdust, wood burning and oil paints.
Unsurprisingly, I have great admiration for carvers as it is an art form that I have never attempted. I have always figured that my block of wood would just end up looking like a much smaller block of wood.
Trudy said that she began carving decades ago after she tagged along with a friend to a carving class. Her friend’s duck has never been completed but Trudy found a passion that continues to this day.
Initially, she did carve with wood but, while living in Yellowknife, Trudy began working with bone and antler. After 16 years of residence in Manitoba, she has returned to her native PEI where she has set up a permanent Sunday booth and an Etsy shop.
Caribou antlers and deer antlers are transformed into beautiful jewelry. These are naturally shed antlers that she has imported from Scandinavia (Caribou) and Ontario (deer).
She also turns beef bones into wonderfully soft shapes like the fish necklace that I could not resist. I turn beef bones into soup broth; that is why she is the carver.
Her process of bleaching the bones is not the most appetizing but it creates a beautiful carving medium.
I am fascinated by people who can find a creative answer to my two favourite questions: What it is? What can we do with it? Trudy’s answer is a truly Random Act of Creativity in my book!
JUN 13th | EMBRACE YOUR GEEKINESS DAY – First, my engineering degree provides me automatic entrance in the Geek Club of the World! Second, I own an “I Love Algebra” t-shirt. It is pink and depending on how it sits on my body it sometimes looks like it says “I Love bra”. Either way, it symbolizes my nerdiness. Third, I own a VCR tape of the making of the Confederation Bridge … and I LOVE it! Not surprisingly, there are a million other ways that my dorkiness is evident but I am going to focus on the bridge.
On July 13th | Embrace Your Geekiness Day, it was incredibly fortuitous that my friend Rosalie and I visited the famed Confederation Bridge. It was every bit as spectacular as I had hoped.
Finding a clear view of the bridge from the Prince Edward Island side was more challenging for us than expected. It’s a 13 km bridge from PEI to New Brunswick … how hard can it be to find a bridge that long?
HEADING TO THE BRIDGE
To begin our journey, we jumped in our tiny rental car in Charlottetown. We headed with maps unfolded toward Borden-Carleton, the site where the bridge meets the island. We decided that we would do all of our navigating by paper map rather than by using our electronic devices. That proved to be a challenge at times.
Evidently, either Ontarians need to be spoon fed as far as road names go or Islanders always know where they are going. Streets names in PEI are either hidden, few, or invisible to the non-native eyes.
After several panicky “we need to turn here” screeches from Rosalie, we found the correct route and navigated through beautiful green potato fields and farmland with colourful clapboard houses. Note: there were many “that was where we were supposed to turn” bellows throughout the day followed by hard braking and three point turns. But road confusion aside, I am totally in LOVE with PEI!
THERE ACTUALLY IS A BRIDGE, RIGHT?
Once we reached Borden-Carleton, the signage for the bridge itself was clear but our search came with new issues. We didn’t want to drive ON the bridge, just take pictures. Vearing off just before the tolls, we ended up circling a small shopping area near the structure but with no view of the bridge whatsoever. Disappointed, we thought we might need to back track and find a side road leading down to ocean.
THERE IS A BRIDGE!
Fortunately, I spied a road as we were leaving the shopping village. We followed the quiet residential street and came to a nearly empty parking lot at the end with a PERFECT view of the bridge and a lovely lighthouse. Incredibly, this road was not labelled in any way making me think that the Islanders are actually keeping this view of the structure a secret! Or maybe there really was a sign but we couldn’t actually see it. That was to become the theme of the ten hours that we happily spent touring the west side of PEI.
RENEWED LOVE OF THE CONFEDERATION BRIDGE!
The Confederation Bridge is an engineering marvel with its 62 massive ice-breaker piers and curved cantilever design. I fullly embraced my geekiness on this day, admiring this structural wonder. I will hopefully cross the bridge one day on a return visit to PEI as I already know that I WILL return to this stunning island.
Being a crafty girl has so many benefits; great friends, great conversations, great food, and great creative challenges. The Crafty Girls Cottage Getaway (CGCG) was created for those exact purposes.
The first activity in our three day craft-fest was fantastic and earned Paula the much anticipated THREE GOLD STAR rating! You can get all the messy details of our first craft, The Dirty Pour, here: http://wp.me/p821XN-fu
Lori’s craft was next on the docket. We were originally going to keep our activities secret until the actual event but we decided that we would share in advance just in case research was involved. When Lori first mentioned her craft, she feared it was lame compared to ours and had lamented to us on our Facebook event page about the vast lameness of her choice. Boy, was she wrong!!
FINDING THE PERFECT ROCK
Lori had decided that we were going to paint rocks. There is a much larger story here but I will get there in due time.
At the end of Day One, as our Dirty Pour paintings began their long drying process, we headed out to collect our supplies. Our portion of the north shore of Lake Simcoe is very rocky so we were presented with an enormous amount of choices. I should probably mention that, at this point in the day, we might have imbibed in a few cocktails and were feeling quite giddy following our painting successes.
Water shoes donned, we combed the shore looking for the perfect rock. We found thousands … literally.
Wading into the water, we looked for rocks with flat surfaces that would provide a nice painting surface.
Paula, of course, had a plan for her rocks. She was thinking ahead to find specific sizes and shapes for her creative ideas. Lori and I were more like aquatic magpies, merely searching for the pretty rocks. Eventually, while Paula continued her seriously stony search, Lori and I turned to throwing rocks and taking selfies. Kids these days!
We left our rocks on the dock to dry overnight and settled in for an evening of great food and great wine.
DAY TWO DAWNS
After a satisfying sleep and tasty breakfast, we hit the craft tables early. We had collected a silly amount of rocks but brought them all up to the cottage for potential painting.
Now for the story behind this activity. Lori lives in a town called Hastings, a smallish community outside Peterborough in Ontario. Two Hastings residents wanted to do something special for Canada’s 150th anniversary and created a town-wide activity called Hastings Rocks. The tagline is FIND A ROCK, PAINT A ROCK, HIDE A ROCK.
In May, Eric Farley and Lynn Rogers launched a Facebook page where they encouraged people of all ages to paint rocks, attain a number for the back of each rock, and hide the rocks a few days before Canada Day on July 1st. Ultimately, the goal was to have 150 rocks in total. When a participant found a rock, they were encouraged to tag a photo of the rock and post it on the Hastings Rock page.
Lori was given numbers 103 through 112 for our rocks prior to the CGCG so we were handed the task of painting ten rocks in total. Unsurprisingly, ten rocks turned into fifteen rocks and then fifteen turned into twenty rocks. It was incredibly hard to stop painting our Canada-themed stones!
Here are our offerings:
These rocks were numbered, sealed, and put into the pool of rocks for the Hastings Rock Event.
Somehow, we managed to slip in more than the required 10 rocks. Lori had a brainstorm …
In the days leading up to and following Canada Day, we were thrilled to see pictures of our rocks that had been found. It was also amazing to see all the other painted rocks as well. Some people chose to keep their rocks and replaced them with one of their own, others re-hid them and some just chose to love their new-found Canadian craft.
NOT JUST FOR HIDING
Of course, we were not done painting rocks after our Hastings Rocks were completed. Painting rocks is very addictive! I just had to have one of Paula’s Moose rocks. I decided to paint some goldfish and lily pads on one to keep all for myself. Paula also painted a beautifully colourful turtle.
Last, but not least, is the face that Lori uncovered in this small rock. It has found a home nestled along with the river rock in one of my gardens.
Lori’s craft was deemed NOT LAME and was given the coveted THREE GOLD STAR rating! A friend of mine was even inspired to paint rocks with her lady friends during Canada Day weekend. Thank you, Hastings Rocks, for giving us such an inspirational craft!
This, of course, made me (Lisa) very nervous about Day Three. Stay Tuned!
The first Crafty Girls Cottage Getaway was a roaring success! For three days, Paula, Lori, and I accomplished so many Random Acts of Creativity! On the beautiful rocky shore of Lake Simcoe, we cooked, ate, drank (Black Fly coolers, of course), gabbed, laughed, and crafted!
We put much research into the event, setting up a Facebook event for our communications. We were each assigned the task of bringing the basics for one creative activity. Our totes were filled with paint, brushes, glue and other fun stuff. Our coolers were filled with delicious meal fixings and other REALLY fun stuff (mostly gummy bears).
GOING FOR FIVE STARS
Paula’s craft was the first session. Entitled The Dirty Pour, it involved wooden initials, acrylic paint, water, glazing liquid, silicone spray, disposable cups, heat gun, and popsicle sticks. We covered our table with a plastic drop sheet and created temporary trays with aluminum foil.
To begin the craft, we each chose four or five different colours of paint. Lori is a colour genius so she helped us with our combinations. We then poured our paints into the bottom of our disposable cups (1/4″ or so).
After adding a squirt of glazing liquid and eight or so drops of water from an eye dropper or pipette into each cup, the thinned paint was ready for the silicone spray. One good spray and very little mixing was all that was needed before we carefully poured our various colours of paint into one cup.
Next, comes the fun part; we poured the contents of the cup onto the wooden initial and then tilted it in various directions until it was covered! Left to dry, we put the initials aside to start on our canvases.
BIGGER AND BETTER
Repeating the paint prep, we moved onto doing a Dirty Pour With A Cup Flip on a 10″ x 10″ canvas. I prepped my canvas by pouring a generous amount of white paint on opposite corners and around the edge but that is optional. Lori used black paint for her canvas prep on her first painting.
Now for our favourite part! Holding the paint-filled cup, we flipped them over and held them in the middle of our canvases, letting gravity pull all the paint down in the inverted cup. After thirty seconds or so, we lifted the cup to excitedly watch the paint flow across the canvas.
Holding the canvas by the edges, we tilted and turned the canvases to cover the surface and create some awesome patterns! If you are like me, you and everything around you are covered in paint at this point. If you are like Paula and Lori, you are still annoyingly clean at this point.
HEATING THINGS UP!
Once we covered our canvases to our liking, we were ready for the best part! Using a heat gun, we trained it on the paint swirls (from a good distance, of course). Paint cells began to appear within the patterns like little dots of colour! Amazingly, the longer we added heat, the more cells that appeared.
The paintings continued to change as they dried, with some areas even cracking to reveal colours below. Paula dragged a feather through one of her canvases for even more visual interest. We let our paintings dry for two days.
The results were fantastic!
We were honestly like six year old kids marveling over our artwork; that might also have been the alcohol beginning to talk.
Paula’s craft was given a much deserved FIVE STAR rating! Now, where to hang my canvases …