Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Potters Market

Carol Ann Michaelson's Must-have Bowl
     This weekend was the annual Potters Market held at Goldie Mill in Guelph.  Last year was my first year of attending and both years I have been impressed with the quality and diversity of work exhibited.  I grew up with pottery as my late mother was a studio potter in Burlington.  Although I had easy access to clay, a potter's wheel and kilns, I was never that interested, but have always had an appreciation for it.  To this day, I drink my tea out of a mug that my mother made some 35 years ago!

     Last year, I only bought one piece, a small lavender-coloured bowl by a Burlington potter (!) named Dale Mark.  It has a very simple but elegant shape and a gorgeous, pale colour that is uncommon.  This year, I spent more time at the market and even though I wanted to see all of the work before I made a decision about what to purchase, I had to have the above bowl as soon as I saw it.  It is quite shallow and very reminiscent of Asian pottery.  The artist, Carol Ann Michaelson, has a studio in Glen Williams and was a very interesting person to talk to.  She used to do more mass-produced work, but now does more one-of-kind pieces that have been influenced by time she has spent in Japan.

     Another piece I bought was from Jay Burn Pottery out of Stratford.  It is also a shallow bowl (hmm, is there a trend there?) that has a high temperature-fired, crystalline-looking glaze.  It has greens and pale oranges in it and begs to be touched.
     Lastly, I bought a small bowl from the local potter, Goldie Sherman, someone who has been a fixture of the local arts scene for as long as I can remember.  It has purples and turquoises and an Islamic-like pattern and was inspired by a Sufi poet.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Clubs

Presently reading
     It's only three weeks into May, but I am already on my fifth book for the month!  I go through periods where my reading is ravenous, and other times when it is practically anorexic.  I have always enjoyed reading - my father once told me that I taught myself to read - not bad for someone whose first word was "duck" (I assume it was the bird and not a warning to look out).  I am presently in two book clubs but am also a "silent partner" in another book club.  The Toronto book club has been going for more than 15 years and has seen many members come and go.  I hosted the very first meeting and, mistakenly, picked a favourite book, Mr. Palomar by Italo Calvino.  It was not well-received, but I have learned that it is sometimes better to pick a book that not everyone likes as it generates more interesting discussion.  Nothing is more dull than everyone agreeing how much they liked a book because after about fifteen minutes, there's nothing more to talk about.  My Toronto book club is full of sarcastic, witty and intelligent people who always manage to have a good laugh but who also are full of interesting insights.  We usually meet on the last Thursday of them month at the host's abode (or a reasonable facsimile) where wine, snacks and sometimes dinner is served.  This month, BS (how appropriate!) is presenting "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins.  I read it in under 24 hours, it was that entertaining!

  My local book club is smaller and is run a little differently.  The presenter doesn't necessarily host the book club and because it is mostly made up of people with kids, there is more emphasis on wine and less on food (very telling that!).  The presenter also does some background research on the author and book.  It has only been going for just over a year now and there is a summer hiatus.  It usually occurs on a Monday evening, that has wandered all over the calendar.  This month, we are doing "Half-Blood Blues" by Esi Edugyan and "The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick deWitt.  Both were nominated for the same awards, so the presenter, LP, thought it would be interesting to read them both.  I read each one in under a week and can't honestly say which I preferred.  One is a story of jazz musicians caught up in the rise of Nazism in Berlin and Paris in the late 1930's whereas the other is a dark but often amusing Western about two brothers who are hired to kill someone.

     CC is also in a book club, a "Men's book club", which happens to feature the husbands of some of my local book club members.  Although I am not a member per se, I often read the books because they are lying around when I am looking for something else to read.  They do a lot of non-fiction, which I find to be a pleasant change and, often, very informative.  Good non-fiction reads like fiction in my humble opinion.  They read "The Ghost Map" by Steven Johnson last month and I read it very quickly as I found it to be very engaging, a scientific what-dunnit.  I was then scrambling for more to read and came across "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson, a book CC had read for his book club many months ago.  It is full of many interesting facts about inventions of the time (the 1890's) and is a fascinating story about two men, one who brought fame to Chicago with the World's fair of 1893, and the other who brought infamy as a serial-killer.

Vickie Day Weekend

Ready to go to pot
     Yesterday, CC and I went to Greenscapes nursery of Rockwood and Belgian nurseries on Highway 7 to buy annuals for the many pots we put out on the front porch and the back patio.  It was quite crazy at the latter, but we got in and out quickly luckily.  It must have been hundreds of degrees Celsius in the shade yesterday, but we managed to get most of the planters planted and watered.  CC puts shards of terra cotta pots in amongst the plants to keep the squirrels at bay.  He finished the planting today and it's like putting an addition on your house - we now have an outside space to inhabit.  The hanging planter on the front porch contains Scaevola 'Whirlwind Blue', three 'Bonfire Orange' Begonias and three 'Sweet Caroline Raven' Sweet Potato vines.  Along the lip of the front porch are three terra cotta boxes each containing two 'Sonic Orange 08' Impatiens and one 'Sonic Light Lavender' Impatiens.

     On the upper, back deck  CC put a 'Minicascade Red' Ivy Geranium for a splash of colour that can be seen from the street at the bottom of our hill.

     The back patio has much more sun now that the $%@#@! next door cut down the mature Linden tree, so we are taking advantage of the increased sunlight.  I planted a terra cotta bowl-shaped pot with a central Euphorbia myrsinites (that's Donkey-tail spurge to you plebes), surrounded by 'Sundial Tangerine' Portulacas.

     CC did a very large terra cotta pot with a central lime-leaf geranium from last summer surrounded by three 'Papaya' Petunias, three blue Salvia and three grey Licorice plants.  In a strawberry pot, he planted Lettuce-leaf Basil, Lemon Thyme, Sage, Silver Thyme, French Tarragon, Greek Oregano, Curled Parsley, Tricolour Sage and Creeping Rosemary.  Salad days or what?!

Toad update

     Whereas a week ago the newly-hatched toad eggs were barely more then small rods of black occasionally wriggling through the pond water, they are now readily identifiable as tadpoles and move around frequently and rapidly.  They like to hang out in groups at the edge of the pond where the water is shallow and presumably warmer and higher in oxygen.  Stay tuned for updates on their growth...

Amaryllis Envy

'Apple Blossom'

     So, two years ago, CC bought a bunch of Amaryllis bulbs from a nursery in hopes of having some sunshine in the depths of winter.  Most of them didn't bloom, so he put them outside for the summer where most of them became a smorgasbord for the wood lice.  One put out many verdant leaves but didn't flower.  Lo and behold, this year up pops the very phallic stalk and buds, and much to our delight it began to flower recently.  The last of the four flowers opened today and is it ever a beauty.  The blossoms measure 9 inches across and the stalk is 24 inches high - truly the porn star of the Amaryllis world!  The 'Apple Blossom' name is very appropriate as it is shades of red, white and pale green - very subtle, but oh-so-beautiful.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

What happened to April?

Spring Fever

     Okay, so it has been over a month since I last posted anything on my blog - I guess I'm the April fool!  I have continued to take pictures, but nothing has really excited me in terms of wanting to share anything with anyone.  The spring garden is in full bloom with Grape Hyacinths,  Forget-me-nots and spring Phlox in full bloom - most of the Daffodils and Narcissi have come and gone!  It looks like it's going to be a bumper crop of Alliums too, hopefully in time for the garden tour we are part of in early June.  A couple of evenings ago, I was looking at the pond and was delighted to see the above - two toads mating and strings of eggs throughout the pond!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll have some tadpoles living in the pond shortly.  As well, we have finally been getting some much-needed rain and the contrast of the storm clouds with the Red Bud tree was quite dramatic.

Marsh Marigolds
Stormy Weather