July 27, 2006


Lila and I went to visit a friend whose Brittany Spaniel had four puppies six weeks ago. What a treat! The mom, Cassie, and Lila played beautifully, running all over their property. They had met months ago but Lila was too much puppy for Cassie then. Now they are fine together. And Cassie needed a break from motherhood. I was pleased to see that Lila was extremely cautious and respectful with the puppies, even shy.




Posted by leya at 07:54 PM

July 26, 2006

The fog creeps in

The weather has been fickle lately. Mostly rain rain rain. Any time the sun dares to shine for a day, everyone is smiling.

Yesterday the fog in the morning obscured the lake:




Posted by leya at 06:10 PM | Comments (1)

July 23, 2006


Tomorrow is the BIG DAY: a friend is coming over to help me clean up my studio! Because of all the rain, my house is still being painted (on the outside) so there is some paint in my studio that isn’t for my use. But we can work around that. There are lots of things that need to find a proper resting place—plastic wrap, bubble wrap, work clothes, rags, etc. Once bookcases are moved back and storage areas sorted out, my studio will be more useable.

Nevertheless, I’ve been carving out little spaces and little times to paint. Whenever no one is here [i.e., weekends and rain days (of which we have had plenty!)], I’ve been in there working. I’ve started some medium large pieces and some very small ones and some in between. As usual, the beginning stages are exciting. And I have no idea where they are going. But it seems they are going well.

I shipped off ten paintings to Denmark (Gallerie Saltum) last week. Two 46" square, three 20" square, and five six inch square pieces. So I have to replace them! With such a long, frustrating period when I couldn't get into my studio, the energy has built up and is bursting to get onto canvas.

Posted by leya at 07:40 PM

July 22, 2006

Lila update (with bragging rights)

The other day I had to go into town. Lila and I were on the front deck. I turned to her and told her: “I have to leave now. Do you want to go with me or stay here?” She then turned around, went in the door and into her kennel. Really!

She's eight months old now, forty pounds (I had hoped she would stop at thirty-five, but she had other ideas apparently), and full of boundless energy. Now that the major building stress is over, she is settling down, relatively speaking. We are starting a new obedience school, with a woman who teaches the clicker method. I think it will work well with Lila as she is so sensitive to sounds. It's taken a while (and lots of treats) for her to get used to my playing the piano. I've never had that problem before. My first dog, Miranda, would come and lie under the piano when I played. So far, Lila responds well to the beginner homework assignments with the clicker. The first class was just the owners, no dogs. This Monday Lila comes with me. Only eight dogs in the class. Should be interesting. She's obviously very intelligent, which also means very willful and testing me all the time! She understands both sides of what she is told to do!

Posted by leya at 10:17 AM | Comments (2)

July 21, 2006

The tunes they are a changin'


The Halifax Jazz Fest is on now! When I returned from Annapolis (late) Friday afternoon, I went to see Mose Allison play at the Holiday Inn. He’s 78 years old and totally wonderful. A good role model for anyone. Jerry Grenelli (on drums) and his son Anthony Grenelli (bassist) were also playing, along with slide guitarist David Tronzo. Everyone played their very best. Mose Alison’s passionate piano playing and intelligent, insightful lyrics were so inspiring, I kept thinking I wanted to study jazz piano just so I could be closer to him, understand his music better.

On Sunday afternoon I went to see (and hear) Peter Tagny play jazz piano in Mahone Bay. It was a beautiful setting, in a private home on the Bay. I love listening to Peter on the radio (weekend mornings on CBC): his conversations, his studio banter, his choice of CD’s to play. It was an afternoon of pleasant jazz commingling and improvised around classical tunes.

When I left that concert I knew it was definitely time to act on my long-time yearning to play jazz piano. I’ve always thought I wouldn’t be good at it, but at this time in my life, that is no longer the point. I just want to play. And lately learning and playing classical music hasn’t been as exciting to me as it used to be. So the time is ripe. I called a friend who has studied with someone in Halifax and I will call the jazz teacher as soon as the jazz festival is over.

Posted by leya at 03:34 PM

July 19, 2006

Leslie Erickson Gallery pix

Last Friday I went to Annapolis Royal. I had some work in a group show at the Leslie Erickson Gallery. I hadn’t wanted to go. It’s a long drive and I had to teach in the morning, from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. But it ended up being a memorable visit. I stayed with Wayne Boucher and Terry Roscoe. Lila was a good traveler and an energetic guest, terrorizing their dog and cat and looking for trouble in every corner of their house. But they are very relaxed people and it was contagious for both Lila and myself.

The exhibit was good; the opening reception crowded and lively. I enjoyed meeting the other artists, seeing new work. After the reception some friends of Wayne and Terry came over. The next day we went to their friend’s house and swam in the lake. And later had brunch. By the time I left I felt very mellow. Sometimes I don't realize how tense I've been until I relax!



Some reasons why I enjoyed being there:





Posted by leya at 05:31 PM

July 12, 2006

Can I help?

Lila really wanted to help put the finishing touches on the dock today. Especially when there was a bag of fittings lying around. Or a glove. She knew just what to do with them. Even if it wasn't what was planned (or needed/or wanted)! My job was to retrieve what she took away!


The water was so inviting! Especially for a Portuguese Water Dog.


Posted by leya at 08:05 PM

July 10, 2006

Summer, finally!

Summer is just beginning here. Finally, we have some decent weather. Because of all the rain (three times the usual in June) my dock couldn't go in. The water was too high. But tomorrow is the big day summer begins for me. My neighbours are putting the dock in. We decided to move it to a better location, build a stationary platform with one long ramp down to the floating dock. This way I can leave most of it in all winter, not have to go through this again if we have another rainy spring (hope not!). So summer is just beginning here.

When I got home from teaching Friday, the scaffolding was down. At first I felt disoriented. It's been three months. Interesting how something unusual can become so familiar it seems normal. It still feels a bit strange, but it is nothing to complain about, for sure. With the new big windows facing the lake, everything is fine.

Posted by leya at 09:01 PM | Comments (1)

July 07, 2006

There and here

Galleri Saltum, in Denmark, just wrote me to say they sold all five of the paintings I sent to them just a few months ago! Exciting! (This is the gallery Elin Neumann so generously connected me with!) So now I can send more paintings over. Great inspiration to paint! (This is the kind of enterprise where profits go right back into the business!) I’m so glad it is the weekend and no carpenters are around. (They really are almost finished and it looks wonderful!)

Meanwhile, here are a few photos taken by the NSCAD University photographer of my exhibit there. I like the way she set up the room. It feels like it did during the exhibit.



Posted by leya at 05:08 PM

July 04, 2006

Facing the Moment of Truth

Tamar now has an essay up on the Autism Speaks website. Please do take a look. It’s about the initial diagnosis for my grandson, Damian. Her writing is so very beautiful, as is the tenderness and courage of the situation. I can’t help but read it with tears in my heart. Damian has done so well, is a delightful, sassy (as she says) eight year old, still struggling but mainly actively engaged in growing and becoming.

The main reason for my recent visit to Tamar’s (the end of May) was to go to Washington for a consultation with Serena Weider, the co-author of The Child with Special Needs, the book Tamar and Dan have used as their main reference for working with Damian’s autism. Serena Weider is an amazing person. I am so glad to have met her. She immediately saw Damian as he is now (with an understanding of how he got there and from where) and what he needs to work on next. All four of us went into her office for an hour. She talked to Damian and then played with Damian and Dan to exemplify what she meant. After that she talked alone to Tamar and Dan while Damian and I went out to her beautiful garden and walked around in the warm sun.

Later they told me she talked about developing his logical thinking so that he would have less fears and feel more comfortable engaging with others. In play, this could be done by asking him for reasons he chooses his moves, what outcome he plans to have, what the scenarios mean. And also giving him more responsibilities around the house with appropriate rewards. In just one month, I can see a big change in his thinking. Usually he doesn’t want to talk to me on the phone. It’s been uncomfortable for him. Last week I spoke to him on the phone. He told me: “I am riding my scooter in the house because it is raining outside and it is okay because the scooter has rubber wheels and won’t hurt the floor.” And his annunciation was very clear and strong. That’s a big leap from the two year old who couldn’t talk at all and spent hours obsessively running his Brio train back and forth. I am so proud of them, Tamar, Dan and Damian, for all the hard work they have done and are doing, and for all the wonderful progress in bringing Damian into a rich life with them.

Posted by leya at 08:45 AM | Comments (3)

July 03, 2006

From the very beginning

It’s been a productive Canada Day weekend. Four days in my studio! The first intensive stretch of time I have had since my house has been under reconstruction. (They are not finished yet because of the endless rains we have been having. Three times the usual amount in June!) Because of the long weekend, no carpenters were here so I was a happy painter!

Friday D. came out to help with the preliminaries. I had primed about ten canvases of all sizes. We glued pieces of (silk-screened images on) canvas and fabric onto the stretched canvases. I really enjoy her curiosity. At one point, she asked me what I think about when I am choosing pieces to glue onto the canvas. I, in my usual terse way, said “Nothing.” But she persisted, saying, from what she knows about design principles, I am definitely thinking about something. Because even before putting paint to the canvases, they look right (a right mixture of balance and tension). So, I must admit, I do think about things. I think about what the bare canvas looks like as it is filling up with pieces of images and various shapes. And I think about what it might look like with these pieces and shapes underneath a layer (or three or four or more) of paint. So there is some foresight involved at every step of the way. I do know what I like to have happen, ultimately, so I put things down that will most likely lead in that direction. What I don’t know is how it will end up: what will stay and what will be buried. And the process is very intuitive. There is no script.

D. had wanted to come watch me paint from the very beginning of the process to the end, to see how I work. But I couldn’t do it. The first steps I go through, when starting a painting, are just too personal to share with anyone. What I put down with paint at the beginning is for no one but me. Along with putting down some colors and possibly drawing some images, I write what I am feeling at the moment, words that come from the images, from things I am thinking. Random thoughts and feelings. I do not censor or challenge them. I don't make them nice if they don't want to be that. It forms, for me, a very personal relationship with the canvas. It’s my secrets revealed, but only to the canvas itself. From there, I transform this intimate beginning into something that is not me, not mine.

Of course, the carpenters are coming again tomorrow and they walk through my studio to get things they need to store there (there really is no other safe place for their tools) so I have to place the canvases with their faces to the wall. I hope they (the paintings) don’t mind. It will just be for the next few days. By the weekend, when the carpenters will not be here, I will have some time to release them. Then, perhaps, I will be ready for D. to see what I am doing.

Posted by leya at 06:50 PM | Comments (1)

July 01, 2006

Chasing rainbows

Last night there was a big scare/excitement in my neighborhood. In the afternoon my generous friend (Hi Debby!) came over to help me collage onto the canvases. When she arrived, she mentioned there were a lot of police cars hanging out on the roads around here. After she left, she called to say there were even more with helicopters circling overhead. She asked the RCMP what was going on. They said they were looking for a black man. She just wanted to warn me.

One of the RCMP was also black. I wonder how he felt with the white RCMP’s description of the fugitive. They didn’t say if he was tall or short, thin or heavy set, just black (not green or yellow or blue). Granted this is an obviously mostly white neighborhood, so on that level, I can understand their emphasis. A black man would definitely be noticeable. But . . . even though I doubt if it was on their minds, it does have an overtone of prejudice attached to the description.

My house is more or less sitting in the woods without another house in view. If I shouted I might be heard. I do have an alarm system. But I also have a lot of windows. I've never been afraid in this neighborhood. It’s always felt safe. But I was nervous last night. So I called a neighbor. The story goes: there was an armed robbery at the Credit Union in Chester. During a police chase, the two robbers ran their car off the road on the highway near here. One escaped. The RCMP were asking everyone in the neighborhood to stay inside, lock their doors, and if they saw a black man, to call 911. Lila and I went over the neighbors’ house. We had dinner; the dogs played; it was a very lovely, pleasant evening. Except for the underlying tension.

They did catch the "black man." And Lila and I went home to sleep in our own beds.

Posted by leya at 02:46 PM | Comments (4)