Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Wishes

I confess that up until a few days ago I found it difficult to get into the "Christmas spirit". Between work and trying to navigate family challenges, I didn't have a lot of energy left over to do shopping and decorating, especially on a tighter budget.

However, there is something magical about this time of year that seems to lighten one’s spirit and watching our home transform with Christmas lights, gifts under the tree and a cheerful fire in the woodstove helped to create the mood.

With these cards I designed I hope to capture those same feelings.

The best thing to giving is the giving of ourselves and I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and all the best in the coming year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Moving On

After being snowed in for a few days we finally ventured out to town. I forgot to bring my camera but took some shots with my cell phone as we drove through Bracebridge.

I couldn't believe the size of the banks alongside the main streets. There are still many side streets not yet plowed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Buried Day Two

This morning we climbed onto the car port roof and started shovelling. The highway was still closed in both directions and I lost phone service for a number of hours. When I climbed onto the roof I could barely move! There was more than three feet of snow to clear.

This was my view of the roof. We were on opposite sides of each other, I'm facing the Muskoka Room.

Later we heard on the news that the Bracebridge, Huntsville area received 60-100 cm of snow in two days!

Briefly the sun came out and we enjoyed patches of blue sky, creating a winter wonderland.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snow Day

The Muskoka region has been hit hard with snow these past few days. Huntsville received almost 70 cm of the “fluffy stuff” overnight. Our area has received at least 50 cm of snow and we’re supposed to receive another 30 cm today! I got up early and took a few pictures. This is looking out from under the car port.

A few hours later, from the same vantage point. This is after I had my driveway cleared.

Across the street my neighbour is blowing out his driveway, and you can barely see his house.
For two days I drove in white-out conditions to and from work. Thankfully today I am off but my heart goes out to those who still have to travel in treacherous conditions, especially those who need to get to the hospital for treatment.
As I write this, I've just heard that the highway is closed in both directions, so we are snowed in for sure!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Halfway Lake

Near where we live is a small lake that flows into another larger body of water. For many years I have skied it in the winter and canoed it in the summer. This fall, we enjoyed an unseasonably warm day as we spent a wonderful afternoon exploring Halfway Lake.

As we paddled across Stoneleigh Lake into Halfway Lake we came across clusters of the aquatic herb Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata). These elegant plants are edible; the young leaf stalks can be cooked as greens and the seeds eaten as nuts.

There were also the elegant fragrant water lilies (Nymphaea odorata) which I enjoyed capturing in my sketches and on camera. Without a doubt they are one of my favourite aquatic plants.
Below are some sketches I did while we canoed and then another watercolour sketch I completed at home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Characters from the Past

I came across a poem I had composed and was pleasantly surprised with its whimsical quality. As children my sister and I spent countless hours inventing comics which consisted of a large cast of complex animalistic characters. Looking back I believe we were quite sophisticated in our humour although it may have been somewhat naive. As I speak, my sister is on tour in Nunavut and the surrounding area, doing school presentations as part of the TD Children’s Book Week and promoting her new children’s book “The Pirate and the Penguin”.
I am rather amazed at her tenacity and panache to be able to promote herself. She has worked hard to get where she is today. You can check out her blog at She is everything I would say I’m not, opinionated, vivacious and unafraid. I have always been rather introverted. Even though I believed with my heart and soul that I would work and make a living with my art, (and I did start out that way), I went back to school as a mature student and acquired my degree in nursing. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I worked very hard to get where I am today but it wasn’t the life course or path that I had planned for my personal journey. Just goes to show you, one can never tell the course that life is going to take them. Anyway, here is the poem and drawing.

Lion, skunk and panther
Bound in friendship three
Had one thing most in common,
They loved crumpets for their tea.

Every noon you’d find them
Bound in friendship three
Seated ‘round the table,
Sharing crumpets pleasantly.

Till one fateful afternoon,
Twas sadly meant to be,
Lion, skunk and panther
Quarrelled over tea.

It seems that Lion -
Snarling terribly
Ate up all the crumpets
And drank up all the tea.
Now to this day you’ll find them,
Bound in friendship three
Lion, skunk and panther,
Guard their crumpets carefully.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Natural Heritage

Pictured is an example of gneissic bedrock which have been formed at high pressures and temperatures and segregated into visible bands.

Virginia meadow beauty (Rhexia virginica) regionally rare is an Atlantic coastal plain species. This genus is mostly tropical; however there are about 10 species native to North America.

The Round leaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) found in bogs and wetlands, is a carnivorous plant that obtains it’s nutrition from trapping very small animals or insect life.

On our way back we came across a fairly large fen full of Cotton grass which indicates a limestone or alkaline base.

Tawny cotton grass (Eriphorum virginicum)

This Great Blue Heron was quite elusive therefore this was as close as we were able to approach.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Weekend Away

This has been a busy summer filled with life and work changes one of which entailed moving to a different hospital. Near the end of the summer, my partner and I went for an overnight camping/canoe trip to the Severn Conservation Area. I haven’t camped in almost 15 years, so this experience was one I will remember for a long time. I was able to re-charge and do some much needed soul-searching while we enjoyed a weekend of exploration and discovery in this beautiful region.

This protected area encompasses approximately 10,000 hectares filled with vascular plant species, some nationally and provincially rare. The Severn River Conservation Reserve is reputed to contain the largest “continuous area of Precambrian bedrock in the world” (OMNR 2008).

We paddled approximately six kilometres and crossed many portages before reaching our destination for the night.

As you can see, this region provides a mixed range of bogs and wetlands; numerous small lakes and mixed deciduous and coniferous forest complexes.

Beaver dam onto outflow of Hart Lake.

We found a wonderful island to set up camp. Although it was the second week of September, I came across this green frog sunning itself at the water’s edge.

The next morning we woke to brilliant sunshine and a heavy mist, the results of which were quite stunning. The weather was unseasonably warm, as we enjoyed an early morning canoe; the scenery and the stillness.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Slow Growth

This summer has been unusually cold with the temperature dropping as low as 7 degrees celcius at night, so growth has been slow. As a layman, I have noticed a dramatic decline in the butterfly and bee population. The number of white admirals, pink ladies and monarch butterflies seems to have decreased from previous summers. I’m not certain if this is due to dwindling habitat, change in weather patterns or other factors.

It is of note that the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is on the species at risk list of Ontario. For more information please see

The Ruby Throated hummingbirds however, appear to continue their migratory patterns and we have the usual two to three pairs fighting over the hummingbird feeder. They also enjoy the nectar of the various garden flowers, especially the foxglove and lilies.

Both the males and females like to perch on the “weather” stick which is placed a few feet below the feeder. From there they keep a watchful eye on whoever invades their “space” and then an air battle ensues. It is an amazing show to watch as they navigate feeding and dodging each airborne assault.

The pencil sketches are a result of happy observations of these amazing and at times ferocious little birds.

Below is a small watercolour of the Ruby Throated female hummingbird with Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Watercolour sketch Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea)

Saturday, June 13, 2009


This is the time of year that I have long waited for. Birds are busy nesting, the spring peepers fill the night air with their intense trill and everywhere life is teaming. Every spare minute I have, you can find me in my garden. I love the earthy pungent aroma of the soil as it warms up, the feel of lush vegetation between my fingers. When I’m stressed from work, the garden is my haven, my safe place...

This spring has been rather cool and slow to start, and I’m hoping for warmer weather soon. I have been trying to baby along a Rose of Sharon bush that I hope will come back but so far is not looking too hopeful. Now my fireweed is starting to look rather limp.

We have had our usual occupants, snowshoe hares that have shed their winter coats, woodcocks and a pair of ruffed grouse which gave a wonderful display of mating rituals. Butterflies and dragonflies have made their way back and of course, our welcomed friends the hummingbirds.

There have been two to three pairs that have resided here and shared a hummingbird feeder for the past few summers. Many mornings I have found them fluffed up like golf balls trying to keep warm due to the cold dip in temperature.

I enjoy watching for the return of the various birds and insect life each spring. I am planning on attending a science forum in Buckhorn and will relay my findings....