Monday, April 28, 2014

Back on the Job

The Easter Bunny had some early sunrise treats and outdoor surprises for his "main squeeze"... before he hopped off on his busy delivery schedule elsewhere! HA HA!!! Still out there to welcome May and to serve as a gathering place for our chatty American Gold Finch squadron!

Easter Egg silliness and surprises... plus our much anticipated visit from my brother Don have been "the stuff" of our time and energies for the past few weeks. It seems that the wheel has now fully turned on Winter in these parts... and judging by the bristling of the birds and rampaging antics of our resident chipmunk friends Spring is definitely on every one's minds. I have spent endless hours attempting to dissuade a pair of robins that they cannot nest on the lights above either of our entrances. Despite my efforts each morning I begin my day removing their grassy gatherings. Who will win out?.... Time will tell!

On the human side of the ledger, cruise tours are again underway in the village from early morning until late afternoon. The cruise visitors bring with them curiosity and the urge to explore at will during their brief sojourn and cruise time. Property lines as with the other creatures bear no meaning to them. It is amusing to watch at this point in the annual migration... but deep within me burns the late summer memory of the constant influx of numbers of daily visitors which this tiny village is incapable of housing... even for a brief few hours. So I smile... relish the moment and continue on with my raking and garden chores. Tomorrow will come soon enough... and today.... there is ample space for all. Besides... it is the business that they bring that drives and supports village economy.

I have resumed my painting projects, set aside earlier to share our time fully with Donnie. What a marvellous time of touring old haunts and visiting newly discovered and exciting places... on both sides of the River we grew up on together. The three of us visited Clayton and Alexandria Bay, NY on one cross-river excursion. It was a relaxed and easy warm up for our time together. On our second tour... we followed the River from A-Bay eastward to Ogdensburg, NY to visit the famous Frederic Remington Gallery there. What a marvellous time we shared there. Allison had joined us on the first day... but alas... the Gallery was closed until Tuesday... so we returned the next day... unfortunately without her to actually view the collection. On both occasions we took nourishment at The Phillip's Diner... a 40's diner still flourishing and throwing out diner hash to a daily packed house.

Riverside relics... still hangin' around in Alexandria Bay

 Oscar's Tavern was a weekend hangout for all Brockville youth in our day.... "legal" at eighteen in NY State... whereas twenty-one was the launch pad year in Ontario. Oscar's time has passed. The tavern is for sale online. No more sudsy pitchers of cheap draft... or dancin' till ya drop!Some things must change... but as this picture clearly presents... others need not. Love you Donnie... to the moon and back!

Fabulous Fifties food still hot on the grill at the Phillips Diner in Odgensburg NY since 1946. Kept expecting Fonz to drift in at any moment... or Flo to appear... check pad in hand.... as I knocked back a HUGE Reuben n' fries combo and a tall Pepsi! If you've got a good game plan going and it works... Stick to yer game!

A Sherman moment... the smiles say it all! Thanks Flo... for the great photo!

I think that I'll take a pause here at this juncture to put in some much needed time on my projects Deadline is fast approaching... and almost have a wrap on them! I will share our wonderful afternoon visit to the Remington Art Museum. It was truly a magical time... with many lessons and observations garnered personally and I so want to share my findings with all of you! Art does not get any Fine-r than Remington's output. It never gets old. Every time that I visit and peruse his works... I come away enriched... and further motivated to paint my little heart out!

Stay tuned... for episode two! Glad to be back in the saddle painting... and writing again. I missed it!

Good Painting to ALL!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring... Full Swing!

April crept in surreptitiously... cunningly and with vengeance in her heart. I awoke on the morning of April 1st to discover fourteen inches of wet heavy snow on our deck. The birds at our feeders and I shared immediate disbelief... total disorientation and deflated spirits... knowing full well that the day ahead would be filled with challenges and interruptions to our spring day plans.

Feeder frenzy begins...

I cannot remember shoveling snow that heavy... nor will I... ever again! It is unhealthy for anyone to try and manhandle that heavy burden at any age. I cleared the deck first and freed my winged buddies from their worries... and their gratitude was immediate. Many came to the feeders even while I shovelled away the last of that heavy *@#%&. That lifted my spirits... a little.

We went to Kingston to do some chores... and returned to find a great deal of the dump "disappeared" or honey-combed by a very warm wind and sunlight. Hallelujah! What was to follow on the next day was mind boggling for me really. I pay very close attention to my natural surroundings... and honestly feel that I live mostly in tune and with understanding of the workings of my world about me. What transpired on the morning of April 2nd was as much an April Fool prank to my mind... and as much an anomaly as the fourteen inch April 1st overnight snow deposit.

The feeders and our front yard were filled with new arrivals and voices... each species displaying territorial and courtship behaviours in their varied voices and actions. It was tumultuous... and at the same time awe inspiring. Spring had sprung! But this enigmatic display and event did not end here. Out on the River itself... the skies at every level suddenly flooded with more bird species... simultaneously on their migrating journeys back to summering locations.

Peer through the latticework of branches.... that erratic... undulating necklace of white beads are indisputably "wavies"... or north bound snow geese. No "V" formations characteristic of Canada Geese... rather knots that undulate earning them their Inuit name.... "wavies." These geese are a diet staple for the Inuit of the North and their hunters decoy them to within gun range by waving white sheets on the ground.

 Skeins of excited and seemingly endless honking Canada geese flocks of hundreds pushed through all morning... joined in their high stratosphere planes by undulating ribbons of snow geese... strung out like dental floss across a cloudless blue sky. At water level... endless squadrons of small shorebirds that I believed were willets or sandpipers crested the diamond encrusted calm waters at a dazzling clip. And in the middle space pockets of sea gulls of more than one genre winged their way eastward. Right on the water are vast resting and feeding rafts of varied waterfowl and geese... all displaying their bright spring mating plumage and doing their highly individual and ritualistic courtship dances. Soon they will be gone... lifting en mass to extend their annual spring odyssey northward.

I have never in all my years born witness to such a spring revival event of this magnitude... in a single moment. It was likely a once-in-a-life time fluke... or was it. I wonder???....

 My birding journal required some extra attention over the past few days... with sightings of more eagles, a snowy owl, turkey vultures song sparrows and American gold finches... just to name a few. It has been a wonderful spring tonic and booster shot for me - a break from the winter works water colour duties in our basement studio. That time and energy consuming project is coming along really well. I am "in the flow" and I am approaching the end off my first batch of chores. What a relief that is! I am pleased with what I have produced... but that is a story for another day.

I will sign off today with the mention of the spring arrival of another "migrator". My brother Don has arrived from Victoria BC and will be spending two weeks with us here at "Islesview".  All three of us are overjoyed to share this opportunity to "be family" after three years of separation...except by weekly back n' forth telephone calls. We are busy trippin' about daily to childhood haunts and enjoying great food and "Happy Hours"... that run into the evening late.

Here... I am joined by a Canadian dignitary... both excited for Donnie to arrive from Victoria. Patience laddies!

Don's in the middle part of the escalator travellers. Donnie is looking away almost embarrassed... and the first man is smiling at me... can't figure why????

Maybe it was my welcome sign I was holding! HA HA!!! Pay back Sib!....

Call it again.... a "Resurrection" of the spirit. I can only speak for my Self...  in that  I feel enriched... uplifted... and yes, at moments transcending today into a state of full mirth and Happiness! Spring... and Hope reigns Eternal in my heart... and the land about "Me"!

Thrusting tulips this morning newly emerged after the overnight rain

Joined by these anxious to escape skyward daffies!

First boat past Rockport... off to work in the islands... an early start.

Captain Eugene Johnston will have to settle for second on the water recognition this year.... but he really did try to retain his coveted win from last season. Ten stubborn inches of ice astern kept him from repeating this season. 

This sight at St Brendan's Cemetery across the Parkway greets me at the halfway point on my nightly walkabout. I always pause to give thanks for the blessings of my life and the gifts of my Creator. The depiction of Christ's Crucifixion... with the empty crypt behind indelibly transfix the frailty and brevity of human life. I am reminded that Christ's sacrifice was offered to insure a  promise of life beyond earthly existence. Whether one chooses to believe in that ... in my mind is based upon personal choice and conviction and is driven by simple Hope.

Hope is nothing but a word... a field of unfulfilled dreams... unless it is accompanied by direct actions and purpose to bring it into reality. I feel blessed that our Hopes have been kindled and given sustenance by mutual effort and definite plans to lead us into summer.

This watercolour sketch symbolizes one small action in my plan to extend beyond merely hoping. Enjoy!

I will be away from posting... until the dust settles and visiting is past and our Gallery is ready for summer visitors once again. I want to take this time to wish all of you...

Good Painting!... a Happy Spring and Happy Easter!