Mulish Thoughts on Subtle Differences

Posted July 18, 2016 by JJ
Categories: Playing Cards

Tags: , , ,

I’ve been unable to use the computer much after practically doing the splits when I slipped on the kitchen floor while cleaning up, and then slamming my arm and shoulder into the counter while trying to hold myself up until the spouse came and grabbed one of my legs. How embarrassing, and the lump and bruises on my arm set up nerve pain.

So, I’ve been using my arm gently and catching up on last year’s sketches on my Manner and Material blog. Three more to go and I can get on with this year’s project and crack open my nice Stillman & Birn Zeta journal.

I was fortunate to have a friend send me a deck of playing cards called Discover Canadian Wildlife which has 52 different images. The irony being that he found the deck in the UK and mailed it over here!

I do love playing cards. As a sub-genre of my main deck collection, I have 64 playing card decks, many of them unusual. I like to learn about animals and this makes a great addition to all my animal decks, tarot or otherwise.

8 OF CLUBS – Mule Deer


When I looked at this I thought “Oh, it’s a white-tailed deer” which it is in general, except the tail has a black tip. Mule deer have slightly different antlers and huge mule-like ears, and are found in western North America rather than the east.

We get a lot of deer around here, which seem to be of the black-tailed variety, perhaps the Columbian Black-Tailed deer. Still, in my ignorance I really don’t know about anything except the white-tailed deer we saw in Ontario. This is the joy of card decks and spotting new animals when you move to a new region.

This reminds me that a quick glance can make you assume things that aren’t true. Always a danger.



Churchill Contemplates Varied Creativity in Libraries, Gardens, and Small Rooms

Posted July 7, 2016 by JJ
Categories: Art Postcards

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s been a strange week with our back fence torn out for repair and the neighbour needing help shifting wood, and our contractor coming by to put in a temporary downspout and measure windows. We got a tremendous amount done one day as I finished my studio organization, hung six pictures, patched some walls, washed a bunch of fabric, and bought the final acrylic paints and medium for my abstract diptych that I’m painting for the living room.

It went on and on. I cleaned the kitchen several times and cleaned all three bathrooms and made a rhubarb/strawberry/cherry crumble. It didn’t leave much time for cards, but amid the unknowable result of negotiations between the Union and Canada Post, I received a parcel from across the pond.

Ah, the magic of postcards from National Trust properties. A heartfelt thank you to my friend Steve Bright, who knows how to choose just the right postcards and art for me.


Winston Churchill’s studio at Chartwell, and the library off the writing room in the tower at Sissinghurst. Up Vita and Harold!

These are people that had some grief in life. I remember reading about Churchill building the garden wall at Chartwell during the time he was in political limbo in the 1930s. It must have been hard for him, but he wrote books and painted and built this incredible wall during those awful years. I imagined it as a three-foot wall, nothing special, but in a garden documentary I was amazed to see the height of it.

Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson lived at Sissinghurst. It is actually a medieval castle and must have been rather gloomy and needed constant repairs but they liked it and built a garden that influenced many others and still does today. I’m not sure that I like Vita’s poetry, it’s of its time and seems a bit stagey today, particularly if you hear recordings of her reading it. Still, she forged on writing poetry, essays, biographies and I’ve always been fascinated by the tower at Sissinghurst which was her writing room, her private eyrie. The tower is Elizabethan, and looks damp and cold, but what a place to create. When the mind tires of ideas, you can look afar, bring yourself out again with your eyes on the land.

A reflection today on how to surround yourself with pleasurable things and yet get things done, create, regardless of what the world thinks of you, their lack of respect, or your isolation, or poor health, or your house needing repairs.

It’s about doing and challenging yourself amid the turmoil of life, and the fundamental ambiguity that plagues the mind. Regardless, there is THIS, these rooms, this art, these books.

I close with a favourite quote by another hero of mine, Kenneth Clark. I was struck by this sequence in Civilisation, Episode 7: Clark is discussing the Baroque and exploitation by relatives of the popes, clothed in nepotism and housed in palaces of greed. He ends by saying this as the camera pans out and shows him walking down an enormous arched corridor that is thick with ornamentation and carving, and a sense of huge, whistling coldness and emptiness that goes on and on.

“I wonder if a single thought that has helped forward the human spirit, has ever been conceived or written in an enormous room.”




While Awake Amid the In-between

Posted June 28, 2016 by JJ
Categories: Tarot - General

Tags: , , ,



The noble Elk has come to tell me of in-between energy, the time when you feel restless but nothing is happening or you have to wait for things to happen. The best thing to do is practice “as if” and carry on through your particular limbo. You have to be ready for time to shift and the right time to move along to come.

Funny about this, I was talking to someone about my next sketching project but I said I had to finish the eight images I was supposed to do last year. So I think this is referring to that. Fake it ‘til you make it. I don’t feel like going back and doing these but I want to because I can’t start the new project until I complete this one.

Yes definitely this is what this is about, I must get on but first I must keep doing these other ones and the new growth spurt will occur.

I made some progress yesterday on my “studio” so I think when this is done I will also be ready for my new Sketch 52 project. It looks an awful mess still, but I have that one box on the right to empty and fold and organize and then it’s basically a regular old tiddy-tidy and vacuum. Then I can sit at my drafting board again. Whee!!


Meanwhile I’ve got “Chickasaw” and “Periscope” to do. I have known for months what I’m drawing but just couldn’t make myself do it. Now I have an incentive AND I’ll be able to use the new watercolours and watercolour pencils I bought last November.

Elk says things are moving, shifting, the breakthrough is coming!



Too Many Daydreams

Posted June 27, 2016 by JJ
Categories: Tarot - General

Tags: , ,



I guess I’ve been told! I got an idea for both a very neat embroidery project and a polymer clay piece to put on a journal cover. I haven’t even unpacked my craft supplies yet.

I’m a bit worried about my fabric, it seems to be somewhat musty after the move and staying packed for six months. I washed some bits to use in the embroidery project yesterday, and they are still a bit musty. Hopefully the steam iron will help, but I have a lot of fabric so it’s disheartening.

Well, I must get these things unpacked and airing out as best I can. The illusions of daydreams grabbed me but I have to get down to practical things. These projects will be fantastic at a later time, but not now. I need to keep my focus on unpacking the last little bits of stuff.



Rescue in a Painted Room

Posted June 26, 2016 by JJ
Categories: Tarot - General

Tags: , ,

The spouse is doing a great job getting our den ready for painting and putting a coat of primer on the doors. We bought good Benjamin Moore paint so don’t expect any surprises.

I had a week of “If I see another government document or form I’m going to scream” reaction and I found myself in tears and sleepless panic all week.

While putting some things away I came across the bottle of Rescue Remedy that I bought for my pets while we were travelling across the country. I only used it once on them, but I took a dose for two nights running, and I’ll take another tonight. It seems to be helping, whether as a placebo or proper homeopathic, I really don’t care.



Ah, I nearly bought the Schleich swan figure once but I’m running out of room. We have seen a swan down by a land spit here, swimming in the ocean very jauntily. I felt amazed that a white swan was swimming in the sea, as I think of them as freshwater birds, but as long as they spend most of their time in freshwater and drinking freshwater, I guess an outing on the sea won’t hurt them. I haven’t seen it for a while so it might have been resting a few days before passing inland toward a lake.

The amazing swan: aren’t they something we take for granted, like an icon or symbol that is just there? I see so many bald eagles here, so what was once mythical is every day, but still they are magnificent, something that turns the head, the majesty of nature.

This is one of the reasons I’m fond of animal decks—the fresh eye of art can make something iconic leap out and become more real.

Today was a day to come together, putter in the home and get things done and go to the library. I donated yet another large book that I lugged across the country needlessly, but perhaps the book was resting here before passing inland?

Liquid Portals, Flowing

Posted June 21, 2016 by JJ
Categories: Tarot - General

Tags: , , ,

I unpacked 3 blue plastic bins and half of a large carton of fabric yesterday. It’s everywhere along with bits and pieces of boxes and crafts. I don’t know how I’m going to put it all away.

While unpacking one box I came across a large version of a card from the Portal Tarot. This was my favourite card from the deck and I can’t quite remember but I think Traci Darin make me a copy as a treat, just because it was my favourite.



Blending and balancing. Strangely, the teals and reds are the accent colours in my new living room; no wonder I love this card. Because of a dream I had early yesterday morning I thought of passages of life with this and how you stream along in life, and the portals you go through shrink in size as you leave them behind. Balance but also perspective, distance. The current you now flow in is larger, the massive portal surrounds you and there you are, going through.

I always get good things from this deck. At some point Traci and David had started working on the minor cards to create a full tarot deck but life interfered, they changed, they flowed through a different portal. I remember free-falling with imagination when I saw a sample of one of the minor cards, and feel regret, feel that missed fruition for the deck in its entirety.

Back to currents: given the current way of funding decks for independent publishers, I wish 14 years hadn’t passed, I wish they could get back to the Portal. I find it interesting when musicians revisit music they have played. I remember Glenn Gould’s two renditions of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and I’ve always thought the one he did when older was better, more sensitive, nuanced. Authors and musicians can have a second crack at it sometimes.

After my dream, I was happy to see the portal of the past recede, to find it was gone, replaced by a larger circumstance of life. It is a good thing to move rather than stagnate, however I find myself thinking of the way you can reach into the past and pick the best things and revisit them. I still remember years ago reading that menopause was “reverse puberty” and I thought of the important things I left behind, like art and writing, and I plucked them back to me from the past. Like the co-mingling of spirit and flesh that Traci refers to in her notes for this card.



Impulses of the Creative Spirit in Sage Green

Posted June 20, 2016 by JJ
Categories: Tarot - General

Tags: , ,

Oh so young and tender she looks, turning away, sheltering her frightened hare.



We moved two bookcases and emptied two others yesterday and put 6 drop cloths on the floor and filled several holes in the walls. Yes, we didn’t have enough to do, we are painting the third bedroom which we use as a den. After deciding to move a loveseat in there, the walls were so crummy we figured we should paint it now before I haul out and set up dollhouses in there.

New windows have already gone in, but the walls and ceiling are dirty and the previous occupant was a small boy who nailed many things into the walls.


The Page was hesitant, so she’s turned away to get used to the idea and take a sip of clear, cold water with a sprinkle of reason in it. When you get a notion, a hunch that something needs to be done, go ahead. We hurt all over but we’re chipping away at it over several days. While the spouse is painting, I will unpack and organize all my fabric so that I can sew decorative cushions.

This room, this dirty beige monstrosity, wants a quiet bit of sage green and attendant cushions and mantis.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 176 other followers