Tuesday, January 30, 2007

International Flavour

My latest designs, released last night, are perfect for today's internationally-minded global villager! Using Arabic design precepts for tiling designs, I've added motifs from Japanese heraldry and Ukrainian folk art to create something uniquely reflecting our modern multicultural society. I've really enjoyed this new branch of my work - check it out!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Robins Return!

I just came in from my walk with Casey, and I heard the strident tones of the first Robin of the year! They usually come back to this area sometime in January (sometimes as early as the third of the month), but this is the first time I've heard them this year. In the city, you usually don't see Robins until March or April, but they always come back early to the forests in the rural areas. So nice to hear them!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Photo Journal: Winter Woods Walk

Haven't had much opportunity to go back in the woods for a walk so far this winter, but Casey really wanted a break from the "discipline" of walking on the streets (having to walk on a leash, etc.), and since today was sunny (it hasn't been for a LONG time), it seemed like a good idea. :D

Here's some of the things we saw on our walk today:

Throughout the woods there are numerous wet patches, and some running water, catching the runoff from the nearby swamplands. Surface of the water freezes a bit, but some of it still runs underneath, creating some beautiful patterns in the thin crust of ice.

Here's some ring-necked pheasant prints - they come by regularly in our backyard, and obviously hang out near the woods, too.

Bunny!!! I LOVE bunnies! These rabbit prints show his two big back feet, a small spot between them where he rested his front legs, and the little round circle for his cute little cotton-tail at the back. So cute!!

Here we have 3 sets of prints - bunny (top right), pheasant (top left) and someone's kitty cat, at the bottom. Obviously, everyone wasn't there all at once! :D

And finally, what walk in the woods would be complete without having to avoid stepping on rabbit poo. It always looks disturbingly like dog kibble to me - glad Casey had enough brains to not eat it! :)

Casey and I both had a really good time!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I had a bout of insomnia last night...and after I got a third blanket to put on the bed, I could hear the wind just howling outside for hours...it sounded like the arctic tundra outside!

Man, I was cold! I felt bad taking that extra blanket, Molly was curled up on it having a snooze, but I really needed it! (She has a couple of other soft places she can choose from!).

Currently, if you look outside, the wind is just whipping over the little bit of snow we had the other day, and the sky is full of flakes zipping by. The temperature is -20 degrees Celsius, and with the windchill, it feels like -34 degrees C. (Want to know what that is in Fahrenheit? Check out this handy little converter, thanks to the Buffalo, NY Weather Service).

I REALLY don't want to take Casey out for her walk today...but she'll probably love it, she's always preferred the cold weather (can't stand the heat, poor thing, the sun makes her too hot with her black coat in the summertime) - winter's definitely her favorite time of year! :D

Well, this is at least more typical of the weather we should be getting in winter here in Nova Scotia...we always get a few days like this!

I think I'll set up some tea brewing for myself before I go outside, I'll need it when I get back in!! :)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Finally! This is what winter's SUPPOSED to be like!

January is supposed to be snowy and cold in these parts, but the weather's been all over the place so far this month. I've been able to go outside with only a zip-up fleece sweater on for warmth - that's just SO a-typical! But finally today we got a cold snap, and instead of rain (as we've had lots of this month) we finally got the shovel-able stuff.

I call this "Ode to a Green Cart in Winter" (early tomorrow morning is Green Cart (organic products) collection time, so we wheel the cart out the night before). And alone he stands, at the end of the driveway - a sentinel in the storm.

And it looks like the squirrel's been out and about - already the snow's filling in the prints, though. :)

Yay Snow!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Christmas Time Again!

Tonight is Christmas Eve, for me and the many other Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox Christians who celebrate Christmas using the old calendar.

When I was a child, we got a few works of this great artist named Yaroslava to hang in my room - I love them, they depict wonderful scenes of the everyday life of peasants in Ukraine. This is a great little scene of Christmas eve, and it features many of the elements of Sviat Vechir (what we call Christmas eve):

You see the children pointing out the window at the first star in the sky that night? Once the kids see the first star, dinner can begin! And on the table and surrounding areas you can see some of the traditional foods. It is a meatless and dairyless meal, consisting of kutia (the first thing you eat - wheat & poppy seeds in honey), potato or sauerkraut filled perogies, meatless borscht, and one or two preparations of fish, as well. It's traditional to have 12 dishes, to symbolize the 12 Apostles (but that's a lot of work if you only have a few people coming over, so many people just have some of the dishes). The father is bringing in the didukh, a big sheaf of wheat that sits in the corner, symbolizing our ancestors at the feast. The mother is holding an elaborately decorated bread. Ukrainians have decorated bread for EVERY OCCASION. VERY bread-oriented people. :) This one is called a kolach, and has a lighted candle in the centre. As you can see, Ukrainian Christmas is full of symbolism -- and lots of fun too! It just wouldn't be Christmas without a rousing rendition of the carol Boh Predvichnyi, which we always sang after grace, but before eating. :)

To read another person's fond memories of Ukrainian Christmas in Canada (a guy by the name of Ruslan Tracz), go here. (I'll have to post my own fond memories sometime!)

A great menu for Sviat Vechir with lots of recipes can be found here.

And there's a great little site showing more of Yaroslava's wonderful works here.