March 31, 2006

Signs of spring


The loons are singing again on the lake, geese are flying overhead, ants are coming inside, crocus are pushing through the sleeping ground and Lila is eating the buds.

Posted by leya at 08:42 PM

March 26, 2006

A surprise package


With the arrival of Lila in my life, everything turned upside down and inside out. I knew it would be different, having a dog again, but this is different than I expected. Lila has not been an easy pup. I've worked weekly (and sometimes twice a week) with a wonderful trainer, Susan Jordan (of PAWS for Family and Friends). And now I am reaping the rewards. Now Lila is a normal puppy and I am so very very happy. My trainer, Sue, is totally excited. It shows how her methods work. She said the training process is easy with an easy pup. But to see it happen with one who has "issues", it's very confirming. And she says I should be very proud. Ultimately the bond between Lila and me will be that much stronger for having worked together so intensively. I well up with tears every time I think about, or look at, my wonderful puppy. It is such a big change, like I exchanged her for another with the same markings. Can hardly recognize her, she's so normal (most of the time)!

More than one person suggested (or outright said) I would be better off exchanging her for a calmer puppy. Suggesting that I picked her for all the wrong reasons: her looks--she is so beautiful, has exquisite markings. She is also very intelligent and strong-willed. A “pushy pup.” It is common knowledge that the middle temperament puppy (in a litter) is an easier dog, one that is not aggressive, not shy—an easier dog for a pet. But she was the one for me. The one who felt right, right from the beginning, when I saw her at four days old. She's right for me In so many ways.

Training Lila has not been easy. She came to me with a “mouthy” temperament. Until about two weeks ago the back of my hands were covered with scratches from little puppy teeth and the back of my legs were covered with bruises from little puppy ramming into me with her sharp little puppy teeth. Sometimes, when my back was to her, she would take a running leap at me—with her mouth open. I was a standing snack attack(ed). In the realm of "diagnosis," she had little impulse control (what puppy does, you might say, but this was over-the-top) or ability to self-regulate—she wasn’t able to relax, settle. She would get over-stimulated easily and couldn’t calm herself. I didn’t talk to too many people about it because I myself wasn’t sure how this would turn out. But as Sue told me today, my “quiet determination” is showing rewards. (Although I wouldn’t say I was always quiet when working with Lila. Sometimes I would really lose it. At this point, I can just say “I don’t like you when you are like this” and that helps me to stay calm.) Lila now listens, learns quickly, usually obeys, tests me constantly in a normal, bright little puppy way, and is very affectionate and loving as well as playful, exuberant and adorable. There are no wounds on my hands. She still has occasions of ickyness but they are very brief and infrequent. You would never know from looking at both of us the journey we have taken together.

And the interesting part (for me) is how much it has affected the rest of my life. I'm much more clear about things, more sure of my own feelings and thoughts and decisions. And too, it has affected my painting in the same way (which is very exciting). So--there are many surprises in having this particular little puppy! My baby's come a looong way!

Posted by leya at 06:38 PM

March 21, 2006

Christmas 1949


My first childhood friend, Carol, sent me this photo taken of us (her brother Jimmy on the right, next to me) at her house (next door to mine) before what must have been a Christmas party for the dance class we were taking at the Women’s Club. (She says she still has the picture of Santa and brings it out every Christmas season. I have some important things from my childhood too--the clock that was a wedding present to my parents in 1931, some hand-carved bookends, the print of a Rembrandt self-portrait my dad had in his basement work-shop and I now keep in my studio, and most important, my piano, all major additions to my home.)

I remember the dance classes well. We were in the seventh grade and most of the kids in the neighborhood were taking them. Before starting the classes, my dad waltzed around the living room with me. He was a wonderful dancer—a great sense of rhythm, a strong embrace and knew his steps—and taught me well. I’m still dancing!

Posted by leya at 08:30 AM

March 18, 2006

The sound of ice


In the last month, once ice formed, the lake has been emitting haunting sounds—moaning, talking, creaking, with an occasional burp as the ice moves and shifts with the water underneath.

Last night it sounded like lions barking, roaring in an empty zoo cage. Lonely lions in the lake.

Posted by leya at 03:35 PM

March 17, 2006

Poetry is painting

Michael Enright has been conversing with Bruce Myer (a professor of English at the Laurentian University BA program at Georgian College and an instructor of literature at St.Michael's college at the University of Toronto and author of six volumes of poetry) in a series about poetry on his Sunday morning program. The final installment was about how poems read. Myer said that poetry is “the art of the impossible.” It has a sense of transformation: one thing can become another with hidden meanings (or, I might add, hidden meetings). You fill it out according to your own personal experience. You meet new experiences with your own history.

As I was listening I kept relating what he was saying to painting. How we bring to our world, see it, through what we know, our own personal experiences. Painting, like poetry, is a conversation: we pick up threads of thoughts, take it into our hearts, and transform it through our own point of view.

Something is like (or as) something else. The same in painting. A red line becomes (a bird/a circle/a luscious/severe or harsh red line) something more than just a red line as it is played off against something else (a blue field/a sunset/a green square).

I’m thinking of ordering the Poetry is Life, and Vice Versa CD (as of mid-april from the CBC Shop at 1-800-955-7711 or on the internet on the website under the title Poetry is Life). It was a very interesting series.

Posted by leya at 10:45 AM

March 16, 2006

Beowulf and Grendel

Speaking of Denmark, I saw the movie Beowulf and Grendel Sunday. It was filmed in Iceland but the story takes place in Denmark. I must say, the scenery was well worth seeing the movie. If that is what Denmark looks like (and I know it is amzaing landscape there from photos), I'm punching air-holes in the next box I ship over and climbing in with the paintings!

The story in the movie went beyond the original Anglo-Saxon epic poem I read in Literature classes. It explored how we fear what we don’t understand and how this fear leads to rejection and aggression. The monster Grendel becomes a real flesh and blood creature, with understandable motivations for his vengeance against the Danes. And as he begins to understand Grendel, the famous soldier Beowulf has his first hesitations and confusions about the right to kill the marauding troll. It was a haunting production. It did leave me with strong images.

Posted by leya at 05:57 PM | Comments (1)

Across the ocean waves

About a week ago I mailed five 20” x 20” paintings to Denmark. Elin Neumann connected me to Galleri Saltum where she exhibits her work. I hesitated talking about it because I didn’t know, once the paintings arrived, if they would translate into reality from photographs as well as they expected.

The paintings arrived yesterday and Elin tells me Thora, the gallery owner, is pleased with them and eager to hang them in the gallery. I will post photos when I get them. Now I would love to find a gallery here that would exhibit Elin’s beautiful paintings! That would be so cool, to be able to visit back and forth with artwork! And all because I posted my recipe to keep deer from my garden!

Posted by leya at 04:50 PM

March 15, 2006

Seven down

Last night when leaving the building after my dance class, there were some flashing lights and fancy vehicles up the street. We looked and I wondered: “Are they shooting a movie or is it a fire?” So many movies are being shot here now that we take it for granted. Like it was when I was living in New York City.

But it was a fire, unfortunately. The restaurant Seven (a very good place to eat) had a kitchen fire. I think the difference between here and NYC is that it was big news on the radio this morning.

Posted by leya at 08:32 PM

March 12, 2006

Clean (almost)

It’s been a few good days in my studio. I’ve started some new work and that always feels full of possibilities. But the biggest change is that I had a professional organizer come help me clean up my studio on Friday. We spent four intense hours sorting, bagging, tossing “things” that have been hanging around for years and years. Some of it was never unpacked from ten years ago when I moved in here. I just moved in, pushed things aside, and started painting. But it seems more cost effective to clean up (with some professional help) than build an addition (and probably clutter that up as well!).

I must say, though, when I go into my studio the last couple of days, it feels strange to see the floor so bare! It just doesn’t seem like my studio. It’s too clean. But I’ll get used to it. And hopefully, keep it this way.

Posted by leya at 10:55 AM

March 06, 2006

Lila on ice

Sunday afternoon a couple of friends came out with their dog, Alix. This winter has been very strange, mostly mild, until the last week which was extremely cold so that the lake has finally frozen. It’s turning warm again now so I don’t know how long it will last, but Sunday we took a walk on top of the ice across the lake. From my house to the big square rock that I was swimming to most days last summer. It felt strange, walking where just a few months ago we had been swimming and in a few months more we will be again. It was like walking on clouds, a forbidden impossible pleasure.

Lila loved it. She kept running back and forth as if she had someplace important to go but wasn’t sure which direction it was supposed to be in.




It always gives me a thrill to see my house (nestled in the woods) from the lake:


Posted by leya at 08:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 04, 2006

Puppy play

Lila’s been having fun with other dogs lately. Kiku came back to play a couple of times. Her mom said Kiku was pacing, really asking to come back. They play well together, despite the difference in age and size.

And yesterday we had a play-date with another Portie, Pebble. At times it was hard to tell them apart, both very black with white paws. Pebble is one week older. (Lila is on the left in both photos.)



Posted by leya at 02:47 PM

March 03, 2006

The big Coronation Street Event


Heidi and I went to the Street at the Westin Hotel last Tuesday. Six hundred enthusiastic people were seated in the ballroom to see and talk with Shobna Gulati (who plays Sunita Alahan, the corner store shopkeeper, Dev's wife from the Street). She answered questions and later came into the audience to meet everyone, she said, but by that time, it was so late, Heidi and I left. (School the next morning. Heidi also teaches. )

Sunita is a beautiful charming lively woman who answered questions with directness and humor. A few of the interesting points she made were about the cast. Everyone on the show, she said, is acting. No one, not one person, is how they are in their lives as they are on the show. Shelly would never let anyone push her around, Craig has a beautiful singing voice, Charlie is really a sweetie, as is Tracy, and she herself, she said, is a bitch from hell (hard to believe, that one!). She also said she thinks the reason Coronation Street hasn’t caught on in the States as it has here is probably because it is so real: just real people in real situations, no gloss, not sheen. It definitely is a different kind of program than Desperate Housewives or Grey’s Anatomy. Not the “pretty people” here. She also gave us some spoilers, which I won’t pass on, but you can, I am told, find them on the net (if you want to know what happens before the nine months lag we have in Canada).

The Westin will never be the same again for me!

(Photo courtesy of Heidi)

Posted by leya at 05:06 PM