red

A red hibiscus flower in bloom indoors.

We had a few lovely days last week in which this red hibiscus shrub, inherited last month from a neighbour who has sold their home to move out of province, flowered in our dining room for the first time. They’re fleeting but oh, so lovely.

Yes, the fallen blossoms are now in my freezer, waiting to become a dye bath.

blue sketchbook, pages 6-7

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A horned hotdog person talking about a surprise party.

Ballpoint pen, Sharpie marker, other markers, white gel pen, gesso.

Yes, I know that “partie” doesn’t mean “party”. I got this phrase off the back of a record sleeve, one of the records we bought at a charity yard sale (might have been Saint Vincent de Paul Society?) held in the funeral home parking lot, at which we scored a whole bunch of French records in mint condition that had been removed from the collection of the local French CBC radio station. Anyway I did initially think “party” and thought it was the funniest phrase. When I started posting my little two-panel drawings of cartoon birds saying things that I overheard in public onto my studio website (link: Surprise Party in the Snow) I lifted the phrase for a title. Only one person has ever pointed out to me the error, which tells me that either everyone else thinks I don’t know and is embarrassed for me, or they don’t know themselves, or not many people have actually seen the thing (most likely option). Ah, well. Anyway this sketchbook contains many, many mentions of a sorpresa fiesta en la nieve. It really does sound like a lovely thing, doesn’t it?

the kitchenening, part nine

Lots happening this week. Our cabinets are almost fully installed. Our countertops came early. They tried a bonkers thing to fix the old oak floorboards that were bowing up so that every step across the high traffic part of the room sounded like babow-babow: sawing a line between two floorboards to give it space to relax. It worked okay but not perfectly, but it’s a 112 year old floor so perfect isn’t really in the list of options. It’s noticeably better, though.

The corner of a room with a doorway through to an unfinished kitchen on the left, three mannequins in front of a plant-filled window in the centre, and a gutted piano stacked with bar glasses and bottles on the right.

They took down the plastic sheeting and plywood panel from across the wide doorway between the dining room and the new kitchen, so we can finally get a sense of how the spaces feel together. It’s strange seeing that mustardy yellow (“maize”, according to the chip) against the pale chartreuse of the dining room, but I think once the green backsplash is installed it’ll be less strange.

An unfinished kitchen with yellow and wood tone cabinets, hardwood floor, white wall, and a window opening into a room beyond which is painted green and has a tall window in the centre.

Here’s the view into the room from that doorway. That shelf above the passthrough is the last bit of cabinet still to be finished.

You can see through the passthrough that we’ve started painting the living room a lush, mossy green. Yes, this means the entire main floor of our house is green and yellow now: chartreuse dining room, yellow and green kitchen, green living room, and the front room has two walls baby blue, the wall along the stairs buttery yellow, and the wall leading into that green living room is a beautiful ivory-and-green experiment I haven’t shown you yet. Maybe once we get the old kitchen converted into a bathroom we’ll do it in a warmer colour, but to be honest it’ll probably wind up green.

An unfinished kitchen with yellow and wood tone cabinets and white walls with an older style window trimmed with dark wood in the centre.

The trim has been reattached to our original window and door. I nearly had a panic attack watching one of the contractors going at it on my century old wood with the nail gun but it all went fine and looks great.

That drawer with no handle is the wrong colour and is going to be replaced with a better match so, no need to point out to me that it doesn’t match, hah. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

There’s just so much counter space in here. I keep going in and standing in front of the passthrough and rubbing my hands over the counter in a pantomime of kneading bread. I can’t wait to knead bread here.

Close up of a grey and white quartz countertop with unfinished backsplash and matching quartz sill above it.

Here’s a closeup of my bread kneading spot. We chose this quartz countertop because it looks like terrazzo.

becher street circa 1998

A view out a window with plants trailing from a shelf on the right, two cats on the sill on the left, and a row of trees in the background.

While searching through old blog photos looking for something else, I came across this scan of a photo that is still tucked in the corner of my corkboard in the sewing room. It’s my sweet kitties Benny Bibsley and The Fuzzy Pickle back when we lived in the top of a 1.5 storey house on Becher Street in London, Ontario. There wasn’t a screen in this window and I would open it to let Benny and Pickle outside where they would run up and down the roof. This was also the closest thing I had to a porch in this apartment, and I would sit on the sill with my legs stretched out on the roof and drink tequila and orange juice. The back 40 stretched all the way back to a wooded slope that led down to a floodplain full of soccer pitches and beyond them, the river. We moved out of here when the trees were starting to be cut down for a new lane of houses to be built parallel to our street.

the kitchenening, part eight

We have upper cabinets. Behold our glorious gold. It’s not quite that 70s Harvest Gold, but definitely references it. This whole space will be very 1970s-adjacent once our near-avocado backsplash is in. Here’s a tour of the progress moving clockwise from the doorway (the doorway to the current kitchen, as the one to the new dining room is still blocked off with plywood).

gold and brown kitchen cabinets partially installed in a white room with a window through the wall and oak flooring.

This is the enclosure for the fridge. The left side will be filled in to push the fridge out from the wall a bit. That cabinet up top is enormous and has tray dividers on one side.

yellow and brown kitchen cabinets partially installed in a white room with a window through the wall.

You can see on the upper right there how warped our original plaster walls are. All of these cabinets will have trim on the top that extends them to the ceiling. I don’t mind the look of a gap there but it’s sure going to be nice not to have to clean it.

The hole in the wall will have tile extending up the sides from the backsplash, and a quartz sill.

yellow and brown kitchen cabinets partially installed in a white room with a 100 year old window.

Now we can really get a sense of how sort of weird the original trim on the window will look with the lighter colour of the wood cabinets. Our designer, Markie Tuckett of Timber + Plumb (link: Timber + Plumb) would have preferred to refinish the old trim to match, which probably would have looked beautiful, but I want to keep it the same as the other rooms and insisted it go down as one of those “client quirks”. Ditto for the totally trashed original oak floor, which we may still refinish some day, but not today.

yellow and brown kitchen cabinets partially installed in a white room.

There’s our beautiful open shelf with the gold cabinet and birch shelves and back. This is where my antique Crown jars full of spices will go. Being able to mix my spices right next to the stove feels like the height of luxury.

a tall yellow pantry against a white wall on which a stack of large sheets of wood is leaning.

Opposite that is our very tall pantry, with roll-out drawers in the bottom section. The narrow top part looks a little strange, and we lost a good deal of capacity to make room for the open shelving on the side that I insisted on, but the whole thing is so deep there’s still at least six times the space we had in our old pantry. And our Japanese stacking coffee mugs from the 1960s are going to look so good on these open shelves.

blue sketchbook 2012

Years and years ago this website had hundreds of pages of portfolio and sketchbook images and that’s all here somewhere, hidden in a secret folder I may never open. I’d still like to share that stuff somewhere, especially the sketchbooks as I keep dipping into them and recycling images and ideas into new work. I can’t handle dealing with all those old html pages so I’m just going to start sharing them here.

This big blue sketchbook dates from 2012 into 2013, at a time when I had a studio in an old house in downtown Windsor above a lovely restaurant called Rino’s Kitchen (RIP), was taking Spanish classes for fun at the university, working a few sessions at the bingo hall every month as a charity volunteer on behalf of Artcite, Inc (link: Artcite), and was embarking on my very fun but short-lived stint in roller derby.

It’s a standard 8.5×11″ black hardback sketchbook, but I took off the cover and replaced it with a sturdier one, covered with some old woodcut prints with leather spine and corners.

Here’s the front cover:

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And the drawing on the front endpaper and flyleaf:

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(whoops, I glued that endpaper down with a bit of a crinkle in it. This is why we don’t exhibit our sketchbooks!)

And here’s the first page, which I remember drawing while sitting under the front gate canopy at House Redhair, our camp at the Pennsic War (link: Pennsic War). This would have been Pennsic 42, summer of 2012. I don’t actually like drawing with pencils in my sketchbook and the back of that flyleaf there is why. The rest of this book is drawn with things that don’t smear: ballpoint pen (Zebra F-301 7mm, my favourite), markers, bingo dabbers, and lots and lots of white gel pen (yes I buy those in bulk). Although I started with the first page, the rest of the book was drawn all out of order, and a few pages are used bingo card sheets I drew on and tipped into the book later.

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the things i do for money

A white woman's forearm wearing a stack of hair scrunchies in blue, bronze, and orange tones, in front of a blue backdrop.

I delivered this witchy, moody collection of luxurious silk scrunchies to asil yesterday (link: asil gallery and studio). They’re hand printed with some of my lino blocks, and dyed with indigo, coreopsis, avocado pits, comfrey, and iron. I’ve been using them to wrap up my bedtime topknot and the silk is so gentle on my hellaciously unruly curls and I feel like an old-timey movie star going to bed wearing such elegant accessories even though I’m usually also wearing a stretched-out tank top with ceiling paint on it.

Silk hair scrunchies in blue, bronze, and orange tones, on a blue backdrop.