Sketches and Watercolour Painting – The Blue Mountians

This was the first ink and wash watercolour painting I did, using the new professional-grade paper I got at Christmas.

It was based on a picture I had come across which I really enjoyed, in that it had a variety of tone elements or layers to it that suggested the hills/mountains were some distance off in the background with a hazy and almost smokey sky appearance.

When I had finished it(or so I thought), I was generally happy with how it turned out.

The foreground representing grass was good(although it could be a bit darker); the hill/mountain turned out fine in that it does suggest “distance”(the top of the hill could have sharper edges to it). And the cabin worked out okay as well.

But, it was a pretty bland picture looking I must admit.

As I pondered over it for a few days, I came back and added the trees in to create more depth and some visual points to the overall effect. Which I think was a good choice in the end.

And realistically, who wouldn’t want a cabin on a hilltop surrounded by mountain views?

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Sketches and Watercolour Painting – Nova Scotia Inspired Fishing Boat – Update

About a week or so ago, I posted a loose/abstract watercolour painting I was working on inspired, based on seeing beached fishing boats and such often resting on the ocean floor at low tide. You can take a read of that post from a week ago here. It’s really pretty good.

So, here we have halfway through, and the finished watercolour painting.

To be honest and not to blow my own whistle too much or too loud, I’m genuinely altogether pleased with how the painting turned out.

I do think in hindsight, that adding the thin ink line to the windows and hull might have been a mistake, but I can exclaim with considerable fanfare, I remain my own fiercest critic.

One significant creative element that has been added to the painting process since the beginning of the new year, is using professional-grade watercolour paper. For a “Christmas present” we managed to score professional-grade paper through a chain art supply store at 30 percent off.

Using a far better quality paper, overnight transformed the painting game a 1000 percent.

Secondly, while watching and listening to some watercolour YouTube videos, a comment from one painter/instructor ended up delivering a resounding impact on me.

“DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A MISTAKE”

It might seem like “don’t be afraid to make a mistake” is just a minor blip; a small toe-stubbing potential mishap in the creative journey. But, I can assure you “don’t be afraid to make a mistake” can make the creative juices come to a screeching halt.

So, there you go.

There will be more paintings and stuff to come in the next days and weeks.

Hey, I would love to hear any comments on what you’re seeing.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Brain Fog Monday

I hope that many of you on occasion experience the same “fogginess” that I appear to be dwelling in at this very moment.

You know, the overwhelming desire to write and produce something, but the inability at the time you want to “pound the keys” to get your brain to clear the fog out enough in order to produce a few words that are comprehensible at some level to read.

And thus starts my early Monday morning.

Since coming back at some time in November from a kind of self-imposed hiatus of several months, I’ve taken the approach of casually tickling my brain the day before wanting to write and post something, in order to have an idea, issue, or “life thing” to actually write about. So far, at least I think so far, it has relieved much of the stress and pressure to create something to post about.

Guess, I forgot to do that yesterday.

But, in the big scheme of things happening in the world at the moment, not having an idea for a blog post on a cold and snowy Monday morning here at the “old homestead” on the shores of Georgian Bay isn’t a show-stopper.

In the past when this type of “writing funk” situation would descend upon our south Georgian Bay habitat, my stress level would ramp up; a discernable and measurable helping of frustration would make an appearance, and all of that followed by a few subtle lines of negative self-talk.

But, not today.

I will however admit, that it can take me a while and often a long while to figure things out; “see the light”; and/or see things for what they are. This shouldn’t be taken as negative self-talk, but more of a statement of fact.

Not sure if others see creativity this way or make this connection with creative pursuits, but I see creativity and creative pursuits/hobbies as something that should be fun; bring a sense of joy to yourself; an activity you would look forward to.

The self-induced pressure and stress I found in the summer with writing and this blog, came from a number of directions but much of it came from simply this fact. The focus/my focus was lost on what this blog was meant to be – a fun and creative project/hobby.

A good lesson for many of us to remember – creativity in whatever form should be and hell MUST BE fun. I get it if this is your job or if your desire is to make blogging a full-time thing.

But, it still should be fun – right?

I took up blogging back in 2016 and then sketching/watercolour painting in 2020 for a number of reasons. But, one of the reasons I keep plugging away at it, is it’s fun. Writing and art stretch and expand who I am as a person and realistically that is a good thing – a great thing.

There ya go – seems the Monday morning brain fog lifted just enough to pound out a few words.

This was fun – as it should be.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

The 2022 Routine Begins

So, we’ve finished Christmas and hopefully made it through New Year’s(for the most part) and now we start to settle in for what I’m calling the 2022 routine. Sort of a routine, at least for a while.

I’m not sure routine is the best word to describe this, but it is the routine of work, followed by the weekend and then work – and again followed by the weekend and so on.

In many ways, I’m looking forward to this in a sort of “nice to have some consistency way.” Although, I enjoy the holiday season(some years have been better than others), having some level of consistency in terms of schedule in a bizarre way is bringing me a measured level of peace. I know that I work these five days in a row and then there it is – my weekend.

Of course, there can and will be changes and often variations to the routine and yes – that’s just fine. But, in a bigger picture sense, it’s soothing to say that Sundays will be our outdoor activity day and Monday will be – well whatever happens on that day.

As I sit here writing and reading this as I go along, the whole post screams the exact opposite to how Lynn and I roll on most occasions. That being not much of a routine at all. In fact, Lynn would be most thrilled if there was for the most art no routine at all. She’s more of a “spur-of-the-moment” gal.

But, for Sunday, January 2, 2022 – routine and consistency seem like a good thing. In fact, it seems like the right approach for me at this point. I found throughout 2021, that even with the best of intentions to do “this or that” – minutes and hours would slip by and exactly zero would be accomplished.

As I wrote in a post yesterday(Looking Back at 2021…Looking Forward to 2022), one of the goals on a “checklist” for 2022 is to have a far better approach to both my physical and mental/emotional wellness. I know this will only be achieved at any level by being consistent; focused and routine.

It goes without saying, but there is already a bucketful of unknowns two days into 2022.

In Ontario where we live, it appears the Ontario government has more or less thrown in the towel in terms of the pandemic. With the Omicron variant circulating widely throughout the entire province(Jan 1 – count pushing 19,000 new infections on Saturday alone) our elected officials are nowhere to be seen or even heard from. And there is so much more to say, but it becomes overwhelming and a tad depressing.

But, we march forward doing the best that we can do.

And which in its simplest and most basic terms is looking after one’s physical and mental/emotional wellness as best as one can.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Looking Back at 2021…. Looking Forward at 2022

For many in the blogging world, and perhaps for many not trudging around in the blogging sphere of things, the end of one year alongside the ushering in of a new year, provides an opportunity to reflect on what was the previous 365 days and conversely what the next 365 days may hold.

In the past, I’ve put together a number of those “looking back at the year” posts. Some have been fairly comprehensive and extensive, while others – not so much.

As with any year, there always will be highlights of wonderful and dandy things that happened as we reflect back on them. Alongside that, there will be those moments or issues that we wish hadn’t made an appearance at all.

So, as I sit here just after 5:00am on New Year’s Day(2022), I’m of two minds.

First, should I write yet another “year in review and where are we headed in 2022 post?” Or secondly, simply forget about it. I’m pretty confident that I’ve landed somewhere in between. Which in all likelihood is just the right spot to hover in for the moment.

No one reading this honestly needs a recap of where we all were at the start of 2021. All ya need to do is think pandemic. So, let’s not go there. It doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose in terms of cracking out a post that is oozing positivity.

So, seeing a picture or multiple pictures “speak a thousand words” here are a few highlight pictures from 2021.

Realistically, as I was going through selecting a few, these are just a sample of ones that bring me joy and comfort when I look at them again. The memories that they hold; the good times. The positive experiences of 2021.

Looking back in those retrospective moments like many of us have been doing over the last few days or even this morning on January 1st, many of us(including myself to some extent) can often get stuck on the “what should have been” reflection or the “geez that was kind of miserable” rearview mirror focus on the past year.

But, I’m not convinced, or at least I’m not convinced this morning, that is necessarily the most productive starting block stance for heading into 2022. Much of all of that “what should have been in 2021” or “learning from the past issues/mistakes in 2021” is a far better subject for another post. And far better for someone else to write it.

So, what about 2022 then?

Well, one thing(okay – a few things) I’m determined to work on, is better self-care. Both mentally/emotionally and physically. I need to put more focus on the things that bring joy and relaxation into my life. More exercise and outdoor activities, and more focus on drawing and painting, including an online store or folk art shows/sales. I had a number of people wanting to buy the Christmas gift tags I painted and if I had any original hand-painted holiday cards for sale.

Oh, and would love to do a multi-night hiking trip with Lynn or some other outdoor adventure – so we’ll see.

In addition, I think we’re going to be taking a much harder and gut-searching time to determine if the “old homestead” on the shores of south Georgian Bay is where we want to stay long term. With our daughter over 19 hours away on the east coast of Canada, we often can only visit once a year, if even that. And that simply isn’t working.

So, there you go.

I hadn’t planned to compose a kind of year-end review for 2021, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to get left out of all the “retrospection on 2021” posts currently swimming around in my WP reader.

2022 is here now, so bring it on. There are plenty of challenges ahead(a bit of an understatement), but we all get the idea.

Fuck, that’s all I got to say at the moment.

Hell, I didn’t even make it to midnight last night. After getting up for work on New Year’s Eve day at 2:45am, there was no way I could keep awake for 22 hours. I lasted till about 10:30pm. Not a bad overall attempt.

Lynn on the other hand saw midnight and rang in the New Year – I’ll ask her what it was like(insert chuckle here).

So, what about you guys. Thoughts on what was 2021 and what 2022 holds for you?

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

We’ve Made It So Far

Well, it appears we’ve at least survived through Christmas Day and yesterday(Boxing Day). All in all, I’m taking getting through both those days and all that went with them as “wins on all fronts.”

Yesterday(Boxing Day), we went and had a very socially distanced and COVID friendly Christmas #2 with Lynn’s parents, who live about an hour and a half from us. It was good, but there is no pressing need to bore you to death with the details.

I’ve read a few pieces over the last couple of days, that the week between Christmas and the New Year is the most awkward week of the year. You lose track of what day it is; eat leftovers all week; family is still at the house – but you want to do is take a nap and for many, their kids are out of school and bored beyond description.

I have to head back to work on Tuesday for the rest of the week, till Friday morning(10:30am – sweet), then I’m off for another three days.

In a strange and equally bizarre way, I’m glad Christmas is over for the most part. As Lynn said in the car driving to her parents, this has been the worst Christmas from an emotional and mental wellness perspective in over our 30 plus years of being together.

It was hard to argue that point.

So, like last in this post from last week’s The Christmas Checklist – ☑️(check it twice) much of the next four days will simply be striving to cruise under the radar as much as possible.

For many(including us), this has been a difficult Christmas/holiday season on many fronts. Not many of us(at least I think not many of us) saw what the impact of the Omicron variant would have on the Christmas/holiday season and may still have on society in the upcoming days and weeks.

But, we’ll continue to do our best; hang in there, and soldier on like we always have. My third shot(booster) is scheduled for the Wednesday before the New Year – so that is good. Lynn’s will be in a week or two after that – that’s good as well.

New Year’s is usually a fairly subdued event for us. Mostly because I usually work during the day, which means I’m up for work as early as 2:30 to 3:00am. It’s hard to stay awake for 20 to 21 hours, just to say you made it and could ring the New Year in.

On New Year’s Day, we usually get out for what is called within the outdoors community as a “First Day Hike/Outing.” With three consecutive days off coming up, perhaps it may result in “First”; “Second”; and “Third” day hikes or outings.

It’s still early and dark outside on this December 27th – Monday morning. I’m pretty proud that we’ve made it this far, without completely falling off the deep end.

But, as they say, today is a new day.

And I get that it is a bit of a well-overused and somewhat hollow cliche, but it does have a tiny ring of hope attached to it.

So, we’ll what this day brings if anything. So, we’ll start by putting flicking the switch to put this week into a “finely tuned cruise under the radar mode” – leading us towards Friday at 10:30am.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

December 26 – A New Day

Well, the “big day” is over. Christmas Day has come and gone in the sense that December 25 slipped into December 26, somewhere around midnight.

There will be many folks who head on out today at some point for another “celebration” perhaps with family members who are slightly further afield.

And obviously, there will be a significant percentage who will head out, line up to be the first ones rushing down the aisles of their favorite or not-so-favorite store to snag one of those advertized “Boxing Day” sale purchases.

And some will actually have to head back to work for the day.

I’m glad today is December 26 or Boxing Day or whatever it may be called in your corner of the planet.

Yesterday, December 25 “the big day” sucked. To put it mildly, it “sucked large – very large.”

This year was like no other we’ve experienced. Much of it resulted from our ongoing concern for the wellbeing of our daughter who is dealing with some fairly significant mental wellness issues in her life. It has put her into a spot where she closes the door on communication with many of her friends, including us. We did chat with her boyfriend and roommate on Christmas Eve. It helped to address some concerns, but at the same time raised even more.

And we have no answers as to what to do next.

Our day was spent cooking Christmas dinner and taking two excursions in our car around the south Georgian Bay area where we live. One was mid-day which was equivalent to driving around in a fog bowl. The Weather Network and Environment Canada need to work on their definition of what “foggy patches in the afternoon” actually looks like to them. The second was after dinner to check out Christmas lights.

Mostly getting out in the car was to elevate the heartache and loneliness of simply being in the house.

But, today is a new day. December 26 is starting with far less emotional pain and sorrow than yesterday. I’m hopeful to a tiny degree that will continue throughout the day today.

Later we’re off for a short visit with Lynn’s parents who live about an hour and a half from the “old homestead.” Lynn spread out some ground rules for her parents in order for us to visit. Most are COVID related, while one was that there will be no discussion regarding our daughter. That may be a minor challenge for her father who is somewhat less than tactful at times.

A brightish light early on this Boxing Day morning is I have Monday off.

Well, that’s it – that’s the post.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

The Christmas Checklist – ☑️(check it twice)

A short glance at the old calendar on the wall. suggests we’re only five days away from Christmas Eve and then…the big day. Although, for many folks, Christmas Eve often is the bigger celebration as compared to Christmas Day itself. Nevertheless, regardless of where one sits in terms of this day or that day time is ticking away.

And from where I’m sitting this Monday morning, the tick, tick, tick of the Christmas countdown clock is a good thing.

Why you might ask?

I guess that in some way, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it doesn’t appear to be a runaway train hurtling towards us at breakneck speed.

The light we see isn’t necessarily the “Christmas Star” but a light that suggests we can take a bit of a break and a small lung-filling breather.

No more running around searching for the perfect gifts – ☑️

Christmas decorations all up and house reasonably tidy – ☑️

Christmas baking is done(more or less) – ☑️

Packages sent to our daughter and delivered by Fed Ex – ☑️

No more Christmas events to head off to(I think) – ☑️

There are other things we’re done as well(can’t think of them though) – ☑️

Now, of course, there are still a few things that need to get done. A few more stocking stuffers for Lynn; a couple of small things for Lynn’s parents; and a short trip to the grocery store…oh and the liquor store as well.

I mentioned to Lynn yesterday, that work should be a simple cruise to Friday morning when I’ll be done at 10:30am and home by 11:30.

In a bizarre way, I think I’m going to miss the stress and strain that has led up to this week. Not necessarily the resulting physical and emotional manifestations of the stress and strain of searching for gifts and such, but the time spent with Lynn in the car driving around to small local shops in tiny villages and hamlets scattered around the south Georgian Bay and Grey County areas.

The one major “elephant in the room” we need to deal with is whether we travel to visit Lynn’s elderly parents on Boxing Day. The plan was for us to bring leftover turkey and stuff and have a second Christmas dinner with them. The “elephant” is the speed at which the “Omicron variant” cases are increasing through the province.

Her parents have not received their booster shots yet(which I don’t understand?). Mine is the week after Christmas and Lynn’s is in the first week of 2022. In Ontario, it is virtually impossible to get a free RAT(rapid antigen test) kit which Lynn and I would use before heading to her parents. There are none in our area. Enough said on that though.

So, we’ll need to have that discussion shortly.

Anyhow, enough that “elephant.”

I’ll head out later this morning and finish the stocking stuffer shopping for Lynn and then cruise along for the rest of the day.

Then I plan on cruising along for the rest of the week. Having said that, there will still be many folks rushing about much like a crazed Christmas elf on amphetamines, trying to get it all done resulting in what might be best construed as the perfect “Hallmark style” Christmas. Well, good luck with that. I’m sure it will all work out just fine in the end.

Yup, five days till Christmas. All is good…. or reasonably good.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Our Last Christmas Outing

Let’s just get it out there and say, this isn’t meant to be a cry for help or some sort of weird macabre “last time” post.

Okay, now that you’re hopefully breathing a small sigh of relief, last night was likely our last “Christmas event” outing till after the “big day” this coming Saturday.

In several previous posts over the last number of weeks, I’ve mentioned once or twice that I’m big Christmas/holiday light displays and nighttime Christmas-related events type of fella. Combining both of those together work out well, given Christmas/holiday light displays are best viewed and enjoyed at night. Go figure?

Last Sunday for example, we drove over an hour to a small village in the Beaver Valley area of Ontario for what was supposed to be(it was advertised as such) a “community-wide home Christmas light competition.” We downloaded the map guide and scoresheet and off we went. Unfortunately, and the only thing I can figure is that a significant number of the homes and families that entered the competition, forgot to flick the switch to light up the village. It was four hours that could have been put to better use..like washing my hair.

It was a resounding dud – the light thing…not the hair thing.

Fast forward one week and last night(Saturday) proved to be the redemption in terms of Christmas/holiday nighttime events.

Where the “old homestead” is located in the south Georgian Bay area, puts us in close proximity to many historical sites. All within less than a 10 to 15-minute jaunt by car.

We have(about 4 minutes from us) Sainte Marie among the Hurons“Ontario’s first European Community, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons was the headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron Wendat people. In 1639, the Jesuits, along with French lay workers, began construction of a fenced community that included barracks, a church, workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for Indigenous visitors.”(from – Sainte Marie among the Hurons website).

Next and literally across the road – The Martyrs’ Shrine“The Martyrs’ Shrine, also known as Shrine of the Canadian Martyrs – a Roman Catholic church consecrated to the memory of the Canadian Martyrs, six Jesuit Martyrs, and two laypersons from the mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons.”

And just down the road and one town over and where we headed off to last night is Discovery Harbour“The Naval Establishment – The roots of Discovery Harbour date back to 1793 when Sir John Graves Simcoe scouted Penetanguishene Bay as a strategic site for a naval base. The steep-sided, deep water bay would be an ideal spot to protect and maintain ships. The bay could also serve as a vital transport link from York (Toronto) to the northwest.

The War of 1812 between Britain and the United States sparked the construction of an active naval dockyard at Penetanguishene. By 1817, the British Navy, anxious to patrol and protect the Upper Great Lakes against a future attack, began building the Naval Establishment.”(from – Discovery Harbour website).

So, last night it was off to the “Holiday By The Bay – Discovery Harbour.”

I do believe it was a new event(at least I think it was?) featuring wonderful outdoor light displays; live music(both performers were good; one was a great storyteller and singer), take-home crafts for the kiddies; blacksmithing demonstrations as well as about 15 local artisans and vendors inside 3 traditional buildings.

It was a timed-entry event(time slots every half hour) with capacity restrictions in terms of admissions; proof of doubled vaccination(QR code worked great) and masks to be worn within the entire site(which played havoc with my glasses foggy up lol). Because there was only a limited number of admissions for each 30-minute time slot, the grounds did not feel over-crowded, because they weren’t over-crowded with people. It felt very safe – given the “Omicron” variant currently rushing throughout the province

I can say pretty much without a doubt, that not a single person/family attending got their underwear in a twist about the requirements to enter. Everyone was laughing; eating; checking out the vendors; listening to music; taking memorable pics and selfies at the light displays scattered through the complex and enthusiastically clapping and cheering at the end of the 7:15pm fireworks display.

Fu@k – it was just nice to be out with people around(a sentiment echoed by several of the vendors)…and at night…..bonus!!

Enough of the words….here’s some pictures.

I

A bit of the fireworks..

It was simply……. a great night.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —