Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Update on Ghost!!

here is an email I got from the wonderful person who adopted my Ghost dog back in March.

all the puppy prayers were answered..he has an INCREDIBLE forever home:

Things are going well here. Ghost does have a new name! His name is now Chugach. If you are unfamiliar, it is the name of an Alaskan native culture. There is a mountain range and National Forest named after them and their culture. I had several options for names and he responded very positively to this one so it stuck. I call him Chuwy for short which has become a bit of an identifier. I have to be careful what I leave lying around!

He has come a long way and is a real sweetheart when he isn't getting into something he shouldn't!! He absolutely loves being brushed and getting a good scratch behind the ears. He is still very skittish but is getting better every day. He lets me know when he wants me to come give him love. He is unfortunately still very frightened about being on a leash and refuses to leave the yard. I generally have to pick him up to move him.

He seems very happy with his sister and gets along with all the other dogs that come to play. I bet he would be thrilled to see Denton again (and you!

(please read the story of Ghost aka Chuwy)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

UPDATE on Ghost

We may have a HOME for Ghost..with another husky, who was also a timid rescue..and they live in the Mountains

Please keep him in your puppy prayers and hope that this is his FOREVER home and he will be happy there..please read his story in an older post

It will be SO hard to give him to another home, as I've grown to love him so much..I've cried off and on all day..and I just pray I'm doing the right thing..I would keep him if this was my home, but I only my heart is so torn up.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Puff Pastry - Recipe Detail - Holiday Brie en Croute

Puff Pastry - Recipe Detail - Holiday Brie en Croute

An absolutely amazing recipe. If you love Brie cheese and cranberries, you will be in HEAVEN with this easy to make appetizer. Incorporate some of my wonderful organic cranberry and orange jam for an even more incredible taste..follow link below to purchase my jams.

Friday, March 4, 2011

GIVEAWAY..ready, set, win

Wanted to share the link to a fabulous giveaway for my cabinwindows shop I recently closed my brick and mortar store, and have ALL sorts of great vintage and antique pieces that were used for my display. I'm working hard to get them photographed and listed, but it will take me months and my poor garage is stacked to the ceiling with rubbermaid bins.
If you were looking for a stock tip, I could have provided an inside tip that rubbermaid stock would go
This is one of the lovely items that I had in the store and now have decided to use for my giveaway.

what you can WIN..this lovely crock and a vintage linen from my stash..
and did you all notice..I have my first 100 wonderful followers!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Great Escape

One Spring morning when the blossoms have erupted on the apple trees, I will pack a few things, jump on my bike and start to pedal...

I'll stop for pie and Betty will pour me coffee that is hot and black and doesn't have fancy syrups added to it...

I'll wave at the cows and stop to paint soft grey pussywillows growing in the ditches along the road

Sleeping under the stars, I'll lose myself in the night sky and wake up having found myself.

Heaven Sent

In October, a neighbour of mine called asking if he could give a treat to my "other husky" which I replied..when I left this morning, I only had ONE husky, so please clarify what exactly you mean by "the other husky". He responded, well you now have two huskies and one collie.

Denton as a Baby and Denton with Nevaeh

Immediately I texted the OTHER animal lovers in our household-my kids-to find out which one had "sneaked" in the contraband husky. Both vehemently denied any involvement, but seemed delighted at the prospect of another animal. To this day, we honestly don't know how this husky "found his way" into our yard. Perhaps he sneaked in under a hole in the fence..maybe someone mistook him for my other husky and "returned" him to our yard..maybe he hopped our fence after seeing our other husky or more likely he was "heaven sent".

By the time I got home that night it was dark and no excess husky was to be found. The next morning though I caught a shadowy glimpse of an animal that looked more like a coyote than a dog. As quickly as he appeared, he a ghost into the shadows.

The weekend came and indeed, we did find that another dog had joined our pack. He was extremely timid, and pitifully thin. I left food for him for four days before he finally ate, despite his starving condition. The tips of his ears were missing, either chewed off in a fight, or lost to frostbite, his ribs showed thru his coat which was a stinky mess, and his muzzle and legs were painfully thin.

Months later "Ghost" has become a playful member of the pack. He and Denton are like the twin terrors..running faster than the speed of light, tearing up stuff, and wrestling each other to the ground.. Mother collie, Nevaeh keeps them in line with her yappy bark.

Ghost is still extremely timid around people..but I've discovered that next to his pack members, he LOVES walks and hotdogs..I've learned that patience is something essential to working with this dog, so we take things slowly.

Ghost will need to move on eventually to his forever home..unfortunately i can not keep him. Please send your prayers back to Heaven for my Ghost dog, who was truly heaven sent that we will find the perfect home for him..a place where he can know love, and become the wonderful dog he was meant to be.

Monday, February 21, 2011

come see my upcycled wool pillow made from a skirt

I've been kickin around the idea of making a pillow using an old wool skirt with buttons up the front..I had this fabulous Evan Picone grey wool skirt..and the operative word is now "had" because today I cut it up and made it into a pillow..sorry Evan

I LOVE LOVE LOVE was super easy to make and the look is very trendy..

here are some pictures..and this pillow made its debut today on my vintage Etsy site!! So what does this mean??? well at least two more bins with wool skirts in the garage...YIKES..

I'm on a mission to create responsibly..with the least amount of ecological impact..selling vintage and repurposing/upcycling helps me to achieve that goal..

LOVE my planet

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dreaming about my garden

Chinook winds are melting the snow..I can't wait to get out in my garden..until then I have to be content to dream about what changes I will make, what antique garden accents I will add, and how beautiful my flowers will be..

My Ukranian grandmother grew the most beautiful in the front yard, vegetables in the her funeral one person said..I will miss Bernice, but I will also miss her beautiful you never know whose day you brighten with your garden

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sunday Edition

Deer Hill Farm was on Town Farm Road outside of Quechee Vermont. Romantically charming, it truly captured the essence of the Northeast. At 17, after graduating from HS, I was invited to move into this rambling red farmhouse/commune to live with my boyfriend and 8 other Dartmouth grad students.

My room was on the second floor and the view was nothing short of begged you to write haiku-ridges and ridges of mountains which finally faded into the muted blue sky. A spring fed pond in the backyard, surrounded by wild flowers, whispered to the deer calling them to drink.

Some days I would climb the spooky stairs to the attic..we had an old record player up there and I would open the windows and blast Joni Mitchell tunes across the valley..dancing with my shadow across creaky floors.
One or two cats would follow me there-content to put up with the music for the glorious rays of bright sunshine which filled the attic.

I spent my days outdoors, getting my hands dirty working in the garden or devouring books while relaxing in an adirondack chair by the pond. When I tired of those activities, I'd wander along what was once the King's Highway connecting the US and barely recognizable as a road, let alone a "highway" it was an enchanting path with stone walls and giant oaks.

Buckwheat, our white shepherd/golden mix was a rambunctious puppy then and she was my constant companion..digging her way through our garden. I found it hilariously funny, seeing her covered with rich black earth, but this activity was frowned upon by other members of the household.
We grew most of our own food, trading for things we needed with other communes.

On Sunday morning, we would sit around the pond, drink freshly brewed coffee or tea and thumb through the Sunday Edition of the NY Times..which always ended with the completion of the crossword puzzle.

My kids refer to this time as my "hippy daze"..I called it life at its best..

(sadly the farmhouse burned down in 1974, so I don't have any pictures of I "borrowed" some Vermont real estate photos which capture its essence)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Country Living

When I was in college I lived in a little farmhouse in the town of Hygiene, kidding..that was the name of the town. Rural Colorado at its finest.

It was a little white farmhouse, with creaky wooden floors, a rickety porch on the back, and a spectacular view of the mountains. I loved soaking in the claw foot tub, swinging on the tire swing hung from an old cottonwood in the back 40, and making dinners with my roomies.

We lived there with our pets-my first collie Harvest Moon, two WILD acting ferrets..Fred and Ferret Fawcett,our cats Silver Cloud and a mean black Siamese mix..forgotten its name now..and our crazy horse-who used to come UP onto the rickety porch to open the old "beer fridge" with his nose..we kept carrots and apples in there for him and he helped himself.

There was an old abandoned dairy farm across the road, rows of cornfields and a coffee shop on the corner. You sat at the counter on spinning stools and Betty served the blackest coffee and the biggest cinnamon rolls with the goopiest sweetest icing you've even eaten. The attire ranged from overalls and flannel shirts, to Wranglers and cowboy boots...nothin fancy

We were called "those college kids" but people were friendly enough..especially once they found out that we were animal lovers. From that point on, it was nothing to wake up to a basket of kittens or puppies on our old wooden doorsteps. My roommate Katie would haul them to the college and find them all homes.

This treasury captures the essence of those days and that beautiful old home and a return to the simple life which my soul is CRAVING...
enjoy some quiet this weekend...

Monday, February 7, 2011

PICK ME!! tips for increasing your Etsy treasury potential

Ever wondered why certain items or shops are featured in more treasuries than others. I have certain items in my shop that have been featured many times in treasuries, whereas others seem to be “treasury rejects”.

Of course the scientist in me is always looking for reasonable explanations..aka theories..why Etsy is the way it is. In unlocking the Etsy treasury code, I hope to propel myself AND my fellow team members to the upper echelon of Etsydom..front page. After all, front page, as well as treasury exposure translates into more sales.

(my most recent vintage treasury made for vestiesteam)

So here are some possible explanations and suggestions to help all of us to increase shop exposure through treasuries:

1. Take great photos: This is probably the single most important criteria for selection. Your pictures must be clear, and cropped correctly. I have struggled with this one since I opened my shop, and I continue to plod along in my attempts for improvement in my photography. Initially I fought the front page trends toward what I called “boring backgrounds”. I wanted “interesting backgrounds” that told stories, and reflected my personality..but in reality, like my wild random ADHD personality, my backgrounds were too busy and often distracting. Recently I embraced “change” to create a “unique look” which is more cohesive, calmer and more “treasury friendly”. My first commitment was to make a photography studio in our cabin. I now take most of my pictures there using natural lighting rather than flash. Granted I’m not a Zen master of photography quite yet, but I’m happy to report that my pictures are now featured in MORE vintage theme treasuries. Additionally, more people are adding my items as their favs and MOST importantly, I love my new updated look.

(natural light in my studio)

(bad flash, poor lighting, boring picture)

2. Photo cropping: I see some great items that I would LOVE to feature in treasuries, but what stops me is how the listing pictures have been cropped. Again, this is something I struggle with. Be sure that your thumbnail pics show the ENTIRE item, and that important elements of your product such as spouts and handles are not chopped off. Different angles are ok for showing different aspects of your product-but it makes me a little dizzy when I view a shop where photos tip back and forth at precarious angles.

(Bottles are HARD to photograph..this picture is a little dark)

3. Photography props: Props help create interesting pictures. Here comes the Scientist in me again-but for weeks I “studied” the vintage shops featured on FP. The data collected indicates that old books, lavender bundles, linens, animal figurines, dried flowers/weeds, wooden crates and old chairs were the most frequently used props.

(outdoor natural lighting)

4. Photography backgrounds: GO NEUTRAL..popular background FP colours are greys, ecru, taupe, natural wood and whites.

5. Do your research: Now I sound like a Science teacher, right? This may sound a little “over the top” but I devote a few hours a week to researching popular trends. After being in the antique selling business for years, I noticed that if I included items featured in Country Living magazine in a booth display, they sold. Currently, industrial vintage is HOT. Sign up for Etsy newsletters where they ‘share’ trends.

6. Critique: Swap critiques with a fellow team member or your Etsy bestie. I am SO blessed to have my best friend Anita from Rollinghillsvintage here on Etsy with me. She has been the best mentor for me as I work to improve my shop. She is honest, encouraging and knowledgeable. Both of us realize that our shops will NEVER really be perfect or done, but that they can always be better..and so can YOURS!

7. Use descriptive tags. I often create colour-based treasuries and will look for colours like "charcoal" or "mustard" rather than just grey or yellow. Include team info as a tag. This will help your team members find your items more easily too. Follow current Etsy trends for the month, and tag items appropriately. Don't forget to add "seasonal" appropriate tags.

8. Make a treasury to be in a treasury: I’m surprised when people say-thanks for putting me in your treasury-one day I’m going to make a if this is you, then let TODAY be that day. I’m about as “computer non-savvy” as they come, but luckily my daredevil nature pushes me to embrace NEW adventures. For me creating treasuries allows me to create, decorate, and explore a variety of textures and colours without making a HUGE mess like I generally make in my creations. Warning: treasury making is HIGHLY addictive.

Let’s not fool ourselves, Etsy takes a lot of HARD work, but when you make more trips to the bank..and you find your is SO rewarding. Embrace change!

Thursday, February 3, 2011



click here on the mitten close-up to connect with our lovely hostess

Northern Lodge Handmade Giveaway

You have a chance to win these wonderful Eco-friendly upcycled wool mittens from a blog giveaway being hosted by my friend at

With most of the country reeling from ice, snow and bitter cold..this will be a HOT giveaway.

Come check out the rules


Friday, January 21, 2011

the wind whispered Spring

The buds are on the willows near my cabin are beginning to swell..soon they will burst into soft grey pussy willows.

The ice around the cattails is melting into a beautiful lattice pattern..exposing new shoots.

The mornings are warmer, and the wind whispers Spring

A haiku I wrote about Spring in Canada

In the tangle
of the frozen willows
Spring begins

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Betcha never log rolled before...

Early one summer morning, after a healthy dose of blueberry pancakes drenched in maple syrup, my dad announced that he had a "surprise" for us. My dad's surprises were the best because they involved one or more of the following elements: athletic ability, being outdoors, animals, nature, water or snow and COMPETITION.

On this day we were in for a brand new adventure...log rolling.
Log rolling is a crazy combination of balance, strategy and endurance. Born in log camps, it was probably derived from the art of moving log booms..booms are basically a circle of logs chained together which surround a group of floating logs destined for either the lumber mill or paper mill downstream.

(log boom 1903)

My dad ran booms as a kid to condition himself and improve his balance for hockey and lacrosse. He told us that if you slipped off the log into the free floating logs it was tough to get back to the surface.

Log rolling "equipment" consisted of a bathing suit and a log half submerged in the water..either free floating or attached to a dock by a long chain.
The ends of the log were painted with thin stripes which encircled the logs..these lines served as a focal point...if you can kept your eyes on the end of the log, you had more control. The center of the log was also marked, and each "roller" had to stay on his or her own end of the log during competition (aka a roleo).

You wore water shoes, or chose to go barefoot. I always preferred to have contact with the log and liked rolling barefoot.
Old timers used a long pike pole to help with balance, or to help navigate on the log, but we elected not to use this technique.
NOTE: REAL lumberjacks wore work pants, boots, and suspenders rather than bathing suits.

Our first introduction to the log was watching my dad's childhood friend Bill Fontana and his DOGS demonstrate how to logroll.. Peppy a retired dalmation had been Bill's first birling partner, and together they had gone on the road promoting the sport and Bill's houseboat business. My dad guided some for Fontana so we would often be there visiting with the dogs and our Uncle Willy while my dad cleaned fish for the tourists.

Lesson one: had to get the "feel" of the Dad steadied one end of the the log as one by one we took turns running out onto its slippery surface. We were instructed to focus on the end of the log rather than our feet, bend our knees, keep our torso erect and stretch our arms out to the side. Then we scampered back to the safety of the dock, unless of course we slipped into the lake. Rainy Lake is a large body of water, so a little added "chop" from waves was not uncommon..making balance all that more difficult.

Lesson two: this lesson, you first achieved balance..then gave Dad the thumbs up, whereupon he released his grip on the log. Immediately the log began to move in the water..and depending on how well you had mastered lesson one you either stayed on the log or went for a swim. This lesson resulted in NUMEROUS bruises until we learned to throw ourselves away from the log during the "dismount". My dad often scored dismounts and was as ruthless as the Russian judges. He of course added back flips to his dismounts, making the judges squeal with delight.

Lesson three: RUNNING and CHANGING this lesson, you mastered "control" of the could run in place on the log, or stop the log by redistributing your weight, and bending your knees more deeply.
Changing directions was more difficult, because it required a little "balance beam" style hop on the log, to reverse the spin direction.

Lesson four: BRING ON THE this lesson, the element of competition was introduced. Two rollers positioned themselves on opposite ends of the log. The object was to control the spinning of the log and thereby roll your competition into the cold lake.

Lesson five: DAD GOES FOR A Dad was a fierce competitor who never believed in "allowing kids to win" merely because they were kids. If you beat my dad in ANY competition, believe me you earned it honestly. I practiced hard, wore my bruises with pride and then one day..I sent my dad into Rainy Lake with my fancy footwork. I think I bragged for the rest of the summer..which was always too short.

Years later in college, I met a woman who was a log rolling champion..I challenged her to a roll and let her know that Rainy Lake rollers RULE!!

Thanks Dad for teaching me to log roll. Thank you for teaching me the importance of balance in my life, and to NEVER give up. I sure hope you're practicing in heaven so you can take back your title..I love and miss you Dad

(my dad)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bozhoo Nijii

At one point in my life I decided that I would learn another language..the language I chose was Annishinaabeemowin..the language of the Annishinaabee (Ojibwe)Nation.

(Stormy Sunset on Rainy Lake)

It was a language I'd heard early in my life-growing up on Rainy Lake in NW Ontario..sometimes spoken by Native fisherman paddling thru the bay in front of our cabins..but more often mispoken on non-Native tongues speaking the Annishinaabee names of lakes and bays named long before their relatives had come to live in the Canadian wilderness.

(Little Falls,Gakaabikaansing, Atikokan Ontario by Patti Kryzanowski)

People often learn words of greeting first when studying a new language..hello. In Annishinaabee language this can be either Bozhoo
(bah zhoo)..similar to the French bon jour, or it can be ainiin (a knee) which is a little more formal and perhaps less common greeting. This word Ainiin..combined with the word "nijii" (nah zhee) which means friend..opened the door to a beautiful friendship for me.

My father's journey was changing and he had recently been hospitalized after living a rich life exploring the wonders of the Canadian wilderness. I went to ease this transition for both of my parents. En route, I beaded a small medicine bag, working in a rosette pattern from the inside out..adding circles like a stone does when thrown into a calm pond..I had no plan for this was merely something to pass the time.

As the nursing staff cared for my father, we were asked to leave the room. My mom and I entered a small patient sitting area, which could also be accessed by patients living in the extended care ward. One woman shared lunch with her disabled husband, while others visited with family members or friends. Alone in the corner was a beautiful little Gramma..alone but smiling happily. Mom said..let's join that little Gramma..she might enjoy some company.

We approached and I reached out my hand to shake hands with the woman, asking if we could join her..her warm smile said we could. Her reply was not in English, but in I spoke her words-words new to my tongue..ainiin nijii..her eyes sparkled and her smile engulfed the room. We spoke as much as we could..stored conversations came to life as her native tongue rolled freely from her lips, feeble attempts to understand and respond came from mine. All the while I translated for my mother. Doris, as I'd later learn her name, pulled my chair closer to her, and held my hand as we spoke..forgiving my misprounced words, correcting me with kindness. Laughter and smiles accompanied our words.

When it came time to go back to my father's room, Doris kissed my hands over and over, and held them close to her face. I told my mom-NOW I know why I beaded that is for her..and I told my mom I'd join them shortly, but that first I have a gift to give. I returned to the sun room and held the medicine bag out for my new friend. She took it gently, and then motioned for me to help her put it on. As I did, tears rolled down her beautiful old face. She held my hands against the side of her soft cheeks momentarily.

As I left the room, I told her giga-waabamin (see you later). She smiled and knodded her head. The woman who had been feeding her husband stepped in front of me at the door..she said..I heard you talking to her..she doesn't speak English you know so we can't talk to her, is she your Gramma..I responded that in Native culture all elders are your relatives and are to be treated with that level of respect..she said-so she's YOUR Gramma and I she is my Kokomis, then I turned and winked at Doris..the woman said..well you know NOBODY talks to her, nobody comes to visit her..and I said-well today someone came to visit her..and with that I walked by her.

Every day for the next two weeks, I found an excuse to visit Doris Whitefish..she held my hands, kissing them gently..and I called her Gokim which is another version of the word for grandmother.
If I picked blueberries I'd bring a bowl for my friend.
(blueberry photo by raceytay on etsy)

If I came during lunch, I'd stir her soup to cool it off. If I came in the evening, we'd pull a chair by the window and watch the sunset. Sometimes I'd bring my beading and we'd just sit together. She taught me new words..pointing to things in pictures and telling me what they were.
When it came time to leave Canada and return to Colorado, I was sad to leave my parents and Doris behind.. I explained the best I could that I would be back to see her the following summer.

(sweatlodge is artwork done by dkjart on etsy)

In the months that passed, I spoke her name in my sweat lodge prayers..asking that she was well and that she would know my heart was thinking of her.

For the next three summers I visited Doris each time I went home..I took a CD of powwow music for her..and I introduced my daughter to her..Doris motioned for Jaryl to dance when a fast powwow song came on..Jaryl obliged..fancy shawling with a tablecloth as her shawl..while staff and other patients watched..Doris smiling proudly and inviting them all to the end of that visit we all joined in a round dance..the dance of friends.

(Eagle shadow picture taken of my daughter by Peggy)

I will share more about my special friendship with my beloved Gokim and about all the gifts that learning a new language has brought please come back and I will say giga-waabamin..because in Native languages there are no words as harsh as goodbye.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Colour of Mountains

(Mountain bluebird by Patti Kryzanowski)

Winter temperatures have stripped the colour from the mountains. Not unlike a charcoal drawing, the colours range from soft pussy willow greys to the stark black of deep charcoal greys. As the sun rises, the alpen glow finds the top of peaks, throwing pinks and oranges against this dull palette. Momentarily the mountains resemble the old hand-painted black and white photographs of the past. Dimensions are altered, as trees flatten against the rocky backdrops.
Low in the valleys, motionless clouds are frozen in place.

Seasonal transitions expand the mountain palette. Blues dominate. Shades from deep indigo in the foreground, give way to silvery shades of blue on distant ridges. Clouds climb out of the valleys, like smoke leaving a fire. to encircle the rugged terrain above timberline.

(Sunset storm by Patti Kryzanowski)

(Alaska Bay by Patti Kryzanowski)

Purple storm clouds gather over steep mountain peaks. As the Summer storm spills over the mountain tops, sweeping down the slopes, green explodes in its wake. Fields of wild flowers, hurrying down the mountainsides.

(Alaska tundra by Patti Kryzanowski)

( San Juan mountain flowers by Steve Black)

Autumn cascades down the slopes, as fall whispers of Winter. Tucked into the valleys, aspens burst into firey oranges and yellows.

Snow clouds build, and the cycle repeats.
(Eagle Peak trail by Patti Kryzanowski)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Giveaway hosted by PrimitivePost

FREE IS GOOD..If money is little tight after the holidays, come see what you can win for FREE!!

I've teamed up with Kate of Primitive Post. Kate won a crow pillow from me in November and we've been secretly planning this giveaway since then!!
Click the link below to view all the wonderful details..
be sure to add Primitivepost to your blogs to follow.

Working on a new blog post-so please check back later!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Where in the World? dream destination

The other day I asked a friend-if you could go anywhere in the world where would you go.. his answer-oh, I don’t know….my head must have swiveled around like the possessed girl in the exorcist-because shortly after that he did come up with an answer..the Caribbean…he never asked where I would go-but I felt compelled to tell him anyway..and now I will share my dream destination with you too....we are going on a trip…

Let's pack those suitcases and catch our plane

The origins of this trip began 26 years ago..two young mothers had taken their sons to the park by the lake for a day of play..One boy was named Jamal, the other Maligiaq. At first the mothers smiled from across the playground at each other. Soon the boys began playing together..then as children do, they engaged their mothers to come push them on swings. Both moms noticed that the other was pregnant. Smiles widened..bonded by their membership in the "big belly club", the mothers began to talk as they pushed their sons into the clouds.

Later that day, they shared picnic lunches.. One mother was from Canada, the other from Greenland, and both had come to the lake park because they were missing the waters of their homelands...they both laughed at how small this "lake" was..hardly worth mentioning, the smallest of waves and no fish either..

Months went by, bellies got bigger, a season changed, friendships grew, and the babies were born..a sister for Maligiaq and a brother for Jamal.

Greenland came alive as one mother told the other stories of her country..she told of the trickery in how Iceland and Greenland were named, she remembered the canneries where she worked alongside her sisters, and the other Native women of her village. She spoke proudly of her father's dogs..and their coveted status as sled dogs in her village. She talked of getting together in humble homes darkened in the Winter light creating beatiful beadwork with the women she knew from the cannery. She painted pictures of surreal beauty..icebergs, fierce ocean waves, rocky inlets, open landscapes, and beautiful brown faces..her heart always followed her words as they faded away.

Homesickness is a powerful illness, and one day the mother from Greenland called to tell the other that she could no longer pretend that she didn't prefer the sound of wind in the trees over the sound of traffic, she could no longer pretend that she thought the pond at the park was a lake..she told the other mother...I have decided to raise my children in my village..can you please help me pack?

The children climbed in and out, playing in the empty boxes, until one by one all of the boxes were full but one. The mother from Greenland had saved the beautiful beadwork for the last box..she held it out in her hands to her Canadian friend and are my only friend here..please take something to remind you of me..but the Canadian mother could not..she was too sad to hold something that her friend had made with her beautiful hands.

The two women hugged, with tears rolling down their faces..the children looked bewildered-they had only known joy and laughter between their two mothers..The mother from Greenland spoke at last...I will always keep two of my father's sled for Jamal, another for Eric and when they come..they will have status in my village...and my people will love them as I do.

Dark Winters came to Greenland as the years passed..some letters passed between the two women..both divorced the fathers of their beautiful children..and sometimes their hearts remembered a friendship now separated by time and got in the way and they lost contact eventually.

Under the stars, years later, the Canadian mother thought of her dear friend..and was comforted to know that they still saw the same stars..she wondered if she would ever see her friend from Greenland again..just then a shooting star hurried across the night sky..assuring her that she would..

Within four short days thanks to the wonders of the Internet the friends were connected..before they hung up..the voice in Greenland said-hurry and come to Greenland..Maligiaq will take you in the sea kayak and you can see your beloved polar bears..but hurry because they don't have much time here..

and now you know why Greenland is my dream destination

Maligiaq Padilla is Greenland's champion sea kayaker and Jamal Allen played professional football in Finland, but this is the closest they have been since they once played together.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter fun

Nothing cures the Winter blues like FRESH put on somelottawarmthings, grab your skates, skis or a sled and head outside.

Why retreat indoors once the temperatures drop, and the snow falls? Indoctrinated into the polar bear club early in life, I was the kid bundled from head to toe with more layers than the Michelin man, who couldn't wait to get outdoors to play in the fresh snow. My dad knicknamed me Nanuq which means "polar bear" in the Inuit culture.

I always wanted to take "one more run" on the toboggan..even if it meant clambering up the hill one more time.
Did you know the derivation of the word toboggan is from a Micmac word..interesting as hockey is also attributed to the Micmac tribe.. I guess the Micmacs loved the Winter as much as I do.

Have you ever skated outdoors? Skating indoors just doesn't take your breath away like gliding over a bumpy frozen pond. My mom who was a figure skater once told me-I knew I could skate, but the first time I skated with your dad I FLEW over the ice. They were the stereotypic Canadian pair-he was a professional hockey player, she was a champion figure skater. My mom practiced skating after dark to keep her competition "in the dark" about her routines.

Skating was a family activity. Saturdays we'd pack a picnic lunch, and spend the day playing a hybrid game that was like a cross between broomball and hockey in some frozen paradise. Dad would build a fire..I don't think he knew how to make a small fire..along the snowy bank..and when we weren't warming our frozen bodies, we toasted marshmallows or burned hotdogs black.

I live for's not a time of hibernation for me.

Each of the items in this treasury remind me of some facet of Winter fun that is part of my Canadian upbringing.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tracks in the Snow

pink dawn
tracks in newly fallen snow
holds stories of the night before

As a young child, I often accompanied my Dad deep into the Canadian wilderness. Beyond the frozen swamps, rimmed with red dogwood and blown cattails, we'd turn onto some abandoned logging road. Edged by spruce  forests, intermingled with white birch, these roads went everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In the open clearings carved out by ancient glaciers or more recent logging, my training as a naturalist began. You see, back then there was no "Animal Planet", or "Discovery Channel" to teach you the wonders of nature....and as it was, we had no TV back then anyway. So in all honesty, my degree in Biology didn't start my first semester at CU..but rather the first time I stepped onto a logging road....

Awakening swamp 

According to my dad, "quiet" was the best voice for the bush.  The forest had its own voice..the wind in the tops of the tall pines, the cracking of ice, the whir of a startled grouse..and the caw of the raven..enticing you deeper into its world...quiet...listening to that voice.

When my dad did speak, it was often without words..pointing out things with a quick sideways toss of his head, or holding up his mittened hand to stop me from startling a resting animal, or squatting to examine the tracks in the fresh snow.

Snowy impressions of owl wings left in the pursuit of a foraging mouse

signs of a lone wolf stalking an aging moose

bobcat gliding over a snowy hill to get a better view

the hidden refuge of a where a buck had bedded down

 meandering tracks of a fox flushing his breakfast

leaving the woods,  my heart will forever step in the tracks of my Dad
(all items shown may be purchased..just follow the track..aka links)