August 20, 2006

Now for a recap of what we did last week

We went to the Discovery Centre in Halifax, to Peggy’s Cove and walked around the rocks


and saw John Beale's wonderful whacky show Peggy


out to dinner at the amazing restaurant Rhubarb; to the Buskers on the waterfront and met Elvis (he would move and gyrate only when someone put coins in his cup)


hung out at the great children’s bookstore in Halifax, Woozles; for paddleboat rides around my lake



to Lewis Lake for hikes in the woods and had delicious meals on my new deck.

Damian loved Lila. He loved throwing the ball for her, kicking the soccer ball, throwing sticks in the water for her to swim after. He was good with her (sometime over-the-top) enthusiasms. There were times when she was too much, jumped on him, but seconds later he was playing with her again. He knew she was not aggressive. Just not yet completely in control of herself.

Damian also loves pushing the buttons on elevators. On Tuesday I took him to school with me when I had to see my independent studies student for our final meeting. In the elevator to the parking lot, another woman was in the elevator car and, seeing how much he enjoyed pushing the button, she asked him to push the button for her floor. He was delighted. As she was leaving the elevator she said to me, “I have a twenty year old daughter who still likes to push the buttons!”

So now they are gone, it's quiet here and I have to push the buttons for myself.

Posted by leya at 12:21 PM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2006


It’s very quiet around here. I drove Damian and Tamar to the airport yesterday. After eight days of an active eight year old and an exuberant nine-month puppy, the quiet is loud. I’m getting used to it, but it does feel strange. Just Lila and me. Damian said he didn’t want to go home. But now that he is there he says he likes being home more than he expected. He misses Lila and me. We miss both of them.

Posted by leya at 06:35 PM | Comments (1)

August 13, 2006

How to train a difficult dog

In answer to Michele's question/comment (previous post): honestly, I don’t know the answer. I’m still working on it. I love my dog dearly but she still has some quirks that need to be ironed out. She’s super intelligent. That’s part of the problem. She knows what she is supposed to do (at nine months now), but she also knows that not doing it will get my attention. It’s not that she doesn’t get enough attention. She just wants more. Most of the time. She can often play by herself, and she can be very good. But she can also be very naughty.

Her naughtiness involves mouthing (she thinks she has to put her mouth on everything, including my arms and legs), jumping up on people and counters and tables, running off with favorite items (including glasses, shoes, important papers) and what was her favorite (finally ended!), nipping people in the butt. She had stopped all this bad behavior at about four months, but then the building project started here. Each week I could see her behavior deteriorate. Once there were no more workmen in the house she improved with still some residual problems.

Over the course of the seven months she’s been with me, I’ve tried lots of techniques: ignoring (which drove me crazy and injured), yelling (which upset me more than her), kenneling (which solved the problem temporarily), and now I’m taking a new tactic. We are going to a clicker training obedience class. The method is great for her, it seems. It involves clicking (with a small clicker in my hand) at the moment she does what is appropriate behavior (sitting, lying down, coming when called, getting into heel position, and not nipping or jumping) and then treating. Click and treat.

So for the nipping (when she does), it involves taking my hand away (if that’s where her mouth went), offering it again, and again, until she doesn’t nip, and then clicking and treating. If she’s jumping on me (or someone else), it’s best to turn my back (ignore) for a few seconds, then turn around and if she stops jumping (has all four feet on the ground), then click and treat. The important part is timing: to click right away when the behavior is good. The treat can be delayed if it feels that what she is expecting for being naughty.

This seems to be working (with some lapses). With Tamar and Damian here, I have had lots of opportunities to practice training Lila. Every day she is better. Less jumping, less mouthing. Damian has been playing with her alone out in the field, throwing a tennis ball or kong or kicking the soccer ball for her. He no longer needs me there to protect him. When she does get overexcited by so much activity around her, then I kennel her for a few minutes. It does calm her down.

So it seems I am using all the techniques I’ve been taught by various people and books (all except the yelling, I hope). Tomorrow evening we are all going to the dog class together. I think Damian will enjoy it. I hope so. He’s used to cats. This is so very different for him. And it is so nice for me to have their company here.

Posted by leya at 05:34 PM

August 08, 2006


Living here by the lake in the woods with a brook running fast beside my house, I am continually grateful. Now that the building project is finished (just a few little things to clean up), I am enthusiastically enjoying the new windows and the added view and inviting just about everyone I know (friends and potential friends) to come enjoy it with me.

My special friends, Tamar and Damian arrive this afternoon for eight days. I am eager to see them, and especially eager to have them here in my little piece of paradise. I’m sorry to say Dan had to stay behind because he has a job that doesn’t end until mid-September.

It’s raining today but the sun will shine tomorrow for my family.

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

August 07, 2006

Painting realities

I’ve had three good days in my studio. Three good mornings, I should say. The afternoons have been spent swimming and boating, enjoying the beautiful warm days we have been having. But as I was about to say, it has been good uninterrupted studio time. The paintings are piling up again. Lots of little ones, medium ones, medium large, and not enough large ones. The urge to paint larger just grows. I only hope another opportunity like the one I just had here (at the Anna Leonowens Gallery) arises soon.

Fortunately the paintings are drying faster due to the R&F blending stick with drier I have been using. In fact, I used up all the ones I bought and need to get more. I figured out the stretchers for the canvases are about thirty dollars each so if I were to use my student’s idea (five canvases butted up together), the stretchers alone would be $150. Then there is the canvas and the paint (and I use a lot of that). Even if you don’t count a salary for me (which I don’t get), painting is an expensive occupation. So sales are greatly appreciated. The money just goes right back onto the canvas.

Maybe I need to slow down . . . Not a chance!

Posted by leya at 08:37 PM

August 04, 2006

It's hard!

Beginning to study jazz piano reminds me of when I began to paint (or try) abstract paintings. It was hard. I knew before I went to art school that I wanted to do abstraction, but my studies in school were all based on learning, using color, to create form, mass and space from objects placed before us, as students. The focus was on color, using it in ways that we choose, in ways that would create an object in actual space—the space part being as important as the object. What I wanted to do was to use the same understanding of the elements without the external references.

People often think abstraction is easy: no image, no thought. But it is very difficult. No image; no references, nothing to fall back on. Just what’s on the canvas. Just the paint itself. When there is something out there, an image to represent, it’s more about the image, even if it is distorted, rearranged, inverted. It’s still a familiar image. There is often nothing familiar about an abstract painting. Except, perhaps, the history that brought it to fruition and, perhaps, emotions it generates. But then, everyone’s emotions are different. There isn’t one “proper” reaction to “no image.”

With jazz I’m having to learn scales again, just like I’m beginning music lessons for the first time. Then there is the basic “rules” of how harmonies work in a jazz piece. Then there is the “putting it together” part. I’m used to reading two lines of music at once, the bass and treble clefs. Here I am given just one line, the melody, and the rest is up to me. It’s definitely opening up some new brain cells. After my first lesson, I thought I could come home a play some jazz pieces. That was mistake number one. I might have some understanding now of what the elements are that make up a piece of jazz music, but I have a lot to learn, AND REMEMBER, before I have any fluency in the process. Interesting.

Posted by leya at 02:01 PM

August 03, 2006

Beautiful summer days

From morning on:




and now it's time for a swim in the lake!

Posted by leya at 06:13 PM | Comments (2)

August 02, 2006


Although we had (yet another) heavy rain storm last night, we’ve been having glorious summer weather the last few days. Perfect swimming weather. Lila is great fun to swim with. She usually goes from one person to another (when there is more than me in the water) and checks on them, to make sure they are okay. Very reassuring.

Meanwhile I’ve been painting when I can [when no one is here, as usual, because the builders are still painting the outside, although I think (maybe, quite possibly!) it’s the final few days]. After all these years, it’s still an interesting process, seeing the way a painting changes from beginning to end. As always, I have no idea what a painting will look like when I am “finished” working on it. But I find myself wanting not to repeat the same solutions I’ve been using. I can see new, raw elements demanding to stay, not be painted over. And I can feel the impulse to “tidy” the paintings up. Most of the time I can resist, can stay with the new unexpected elements. Sometimes I can’t.

I have an Independent Studies student this semester, a painter. She’s naturally drawn to abstraction (pun intended). She works hard and does some amazing pieces. One of them is an idea I would like to use. It’s a multiple panel piece but each panel is a distinctly different color. Stealing from my student! O my! And she said she wouldn’t mind if I did. There are just so many possibilities and so little time to paint. Sometimes I feel like I am just starting to figure it out.

Posted by leya at 08:01 AM

August 01, 2006


So . . . I had my first jazz piano lesson Monday. I can sum it up in two words: It’s hard! I never was good with scales and remembering theory. And here I have to know what key and all it’s progressions and combinations all at once. Along with the fact that there is only one line, the melody, and all the rest is up to me. Wow! But I do love a challenge! There is so much to learn.

Sometimes when practicing I feel I can’t do it but then I take a small step in understanding and am eager to get on with it. I took “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and fiddled with the melody and it wasn’t too bad. It’s mostly getting the harmonies going in the right places with the right notes. At this point, playing classical music, with all the notes written out, feels like a cinch. Pieces that were very hard last week don’t look so hard this week!

Yoko came over Sunday for a swim, boat ride, and duets (four-hand piano). It’s been a while since we played and as usual we had some good laughs with our mistakes. She also plays (and teaches) the saxaphone and we talked about playing some jazz pieces together. When I learn what it is all about I can teach her!

The best part of this, so far, is that a couple of friends have been inspired (by my enthusiasm to learn a new musical form) to take up an instrument again. I’m thrilled to be the stimulus for them.

Posted by leya at 07:16 PM