Friday, July 31, 2015

The Calm Before the Storm

Prairie Farmhouse
© Carolynn Anctil 2015

We've officially listed our home for sale and our search for a new one in British Columbia has begun in earnest. It feels like the calm before the storm because, as anyone knows who has ever sold a house before, once things start happening, it takes on a life of its own.

It's a stressful time and The Frenchman and I decided to take a weekend off from everything "house" related last week and go exploring. We share a love for abandoned buildings and I was drawn to the starkness of this old homestead we happened upon. It must have been a hard life, living out here on the bald prairie. 

What's been happening in your corner of the world? I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The House Where Pearl Lives

"The House Where Pearl Lives"
Photograph by Carolynn Anctil ©2015

I'm supposed to be painting trim in the house today. I just don't have the energy. Ever since we got sick earlier in the year, I've found that I have one good day followed by one not so good day.

On the good days I'm full of energy and can accomplish a long list of tasks. On alternate days, I'm lethargic and have to lay down. 

It's frustrating, but I'm listening to what my body needs and behaving accordingly. The painting will still be there tomorrow and these flowers were calling to me.

What's calling to you today? I'd love to hear. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Changes Afoot

Well, it's official.

We've enlisted the aid of a realtor to help us find a new home in British Columbia. We love our house here on the prairies, but just can't handle the weather any more. 

It's a land of extremes here, with temperatures dropping to -40 degrees Celsius in the winter (and that's not including the windchill factor) and soaring to the mid-thirties during the summer months. The wind is a constant on most days and it's relentless.

It's a move of choice, not necessity, so it may take some time to find the right place. In the meantime, we're preparing for a move.

I'm not exactly sure how it's all going to play out and just the thought of moving the chickens makes me hyperventilate. I'm praying for an easy transition. 

Wish us luck!

Anything new in your world that you'd care to share? I'd love to hear.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mother Hen

We've had an extremely dry Spring this year and are currently experiencing a heatwave with temperatures in the mid-thirties Celsius. Naturally, it's the one time when we don't have a hint of a breeze to help give even the illusion of cooler temperatures.

It's at times like these that my Mother Hen comes out in me. Which is good for my animals, I suppose, but keeps me in a constant state of anxiety worrying about their welfare.

Because the hens ate every last blade of grass in their run last year, The Frenchman built a chicken tractor for them earlier this year so we can get them out on the lawn. It's been working really well, but with the soaring temperatures, we decided to let them free range yesterday so they could find comfort on their own. They behaved quite responsibly and stayed close to the house. It's also where the best shade could be found.

We kept several waterers filled with fresh, cool water and added electrolytes, as well. I also wet down the grass frequently to help cool their feet. 

Frozen unsweetened applesauce is an excellent treat for them in this heat and it also helps maintain proper gut bacteria. Our dog, Willow, enjoys it as well.

Speaking of Willow, both our dog and cat were extremely polite with the hens and Pearl, our rooster, didn't seem at all concerned about them either.

All in all, a good day all things considered.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer Pleasures

"Afternoon Tea", "Spring Harvest", "Hat Box"
Original Watercolour Illustrations
by Carolynn Anctil

Summers are busy, aren't they? Suddenly, there's so much to do outside, whether it's gardening, or yardwork, or visiting farmer's markets.

So, I was grateful for a few days of quiet and solitude last week. The peace and serenity I enjoyed was reflected in my artwork, as well, I think.

What summer pleasures have you been enjoying? Do tell.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


"Christopher Croc", "Boxed In", "Goldie"
Original Watercolour Illustrations 
© Carolynn Anctil 2015

I'm slowly beginning to return to the land of the living. The trouble with being sick for so long is that things tend to pile up and I was faced with a long list of things to do once I started to feel better. I took my time weeding my garden plot and planting a few things that have been successful in the past. It won't be a big garden this year. After the demoralizing harvest we had last year, hailstorms notwithstanding, I wasn't going to wear myself out over it. I still tire easily and am approaching it as a lesson in self-compassion by resting when I need to and generally cutting myself some slack.

I've started to spend time in my studio again and, while I haven't committed to another 100 Day Project, it is my intention to establish a daily practice. 

I have a ritual of sorts I employ when I sit down to create. I bring a cup of freshly brewed herbal tea with me, light a candle and invite my muse to join me, along with whatever agents of good would like to enter into my company. I highly recommend this TedTalk by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I've also gotten into the habit of listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks when I sit down to illustrate. I never read the series and do enjoy the imagination of J.K. Rowlings. It also seems to occupy my left brain so my right brain can be free to create without critique.

What about you? Do you have creative rituals you engage in? I would love to hear.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What a Year It's Been So Far

Self Portrait
Original Pencil Sketch
by Carolynn Anctil

All in all, 2015 has been a disappointing year, so far. 

My husband and I have been struggling with our health since February and we now have Walking Pneumonia. We're on our second round of antibiotics and resting as much as we can. It's sapping our energy and we have barely enough to accomplish the simplest of tasks. Walking up a flight of stairs has me huffing and puffing like I've run a marathon.

Consequently, my plans for this year have been severely curtailed until I recover. I was unable to keep up with the daily drawing and set it aside in favour of afternoon naps. I did enjoy the practice and I will begin anew .... when my health returns.

In the meantime, my priorities are all about getting well and looking after my animals. I'll check in from time to time and hope to have better news soon!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Week in Drawing

The drawing continues. I'm starting to fall into an uneasy rhythm. I say that because most days, I feel like this is just one more thing that I have to get done in an already busy day. That said, I'm determined to make time for it.

Even if I only have time to toss off a quick sketch on the back of a shopping list, as I did the other day when we took a day trip out of town. The hawk in the top right was the result, hastily drawn at a restaurant table with what I had on hand in my purse before our meal was served.

All of that aside, I'm enjoying this project. I'm enjoying the discipline and the creative process as much as, or more than, the finished project. I'm also pleased to see a body of work forming in my sketchbook. 

And, you? What have you been up to lately? I'd love to hear.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

10 Days In

It's been a busy week. In addition to my regular responsibilities, there was a thorough Spring Cleaning, that included washing doggy nose prints off windows, baking and, of course - drawing.

I'm 10 days into the 100 Days of Drawing project and there have already been days when I feel like the creative well has run dry. Nevertheless, I sit down at my desk, light my candle and put pencil to paper. Amazingly, something comes out.

This quote has been a big source of encouragement to me this past week:

"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they're deciding, make even more art."    Andy Warhol, Artist.

What has your week been like? I'd love to hear.

I'm participating in the 100 Day Project

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Clouds Are Parting

With the sporadic return of warmer weather, I'm finally beginning to rise out of the dark funk I've been in for the past several months. Blame it on the winter season, the flu or some other thing, it doesn't really matter, the result was the same. Inertia.

One of the things I've committed to doing in an attempt to revive my creativity is to take part in the #100DaysofMaking project. 

I've chosen to Draw every day for 100 days. No pressure. No expectations.

Without going too far into it, I feel that I had become too concerned with outcome. If I was going to spend my time on artwork, it had better be worthwhile, I'd better be making money at it. Sound familiar...? That, I believe, has been a major reason for my descent into the creative abyss.  

Just create has become my new mantra. Release attachment to outcome. Just have fun. 

Some days I'll only have time for a quick sketch. Other days I'll be able to spend more concentrated time on it.

The point of the exercise, as I understand it, is simply to show up and honour my commitment. To this. To me.

I've been using a sketchpad that is completely inappropriate for watercolour, as you can see. I think this was another way in which I had been undervaluing myself and my efforts. 

Beginning today, I'll be using the expensive, good quality, watercolour paper for my sketches. 

I'll be back to share my progress with you periodically. 

If you're interested in participating, it's not too late. Follow the link above or go here to read about the project from its originator, Michael Bierut.

Friday, March 06, 2015


Wow. Would you look at the time!

Where did February go..? Perhaps now is a good time to mention that February was not a particularly kind month over here.

Winter was mild one day and horrifically frigid the next. Somewhere along the line I fell into a creative black hole and had no interest in picking up either camera or paintbrush. It was kinda weird and I just went with it. Winter has a way of bringing out the worst in me, I won't deny it.

At the beginning of the month, my husband and I decided to go vegetarian, although we're continuing to eat the eggs our own hens produce. We originally wanted to go vegan, but it's way harder than you'd imagine.

So, I've had my nose buried in recipe books and my somewhat enormous magazine collection. I've discovered some really yummy meals, but it's fair to say that I'm currently a little consumed with menu planning and meal preparation.

Then, about half way through the month, I got walloped by a nasty flu bug- or a whole brigade of flu bugs. It's been nearly 2 weeks and I'm just now beginning to feel like crawling out from underneath my rock.

In the midst of feeling like total crap, I had a couple of health scares with my hens, as well. I won't go into detail, but all appears well again. Whew!

So, I wanted to pop in here and say "Hey! I'm not dead!" 

And, thank you for the show of concern from several of you! It's much appreciated.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Welcome. Here's What You Should Know Before You Sign Up

Yoga Girl
Original Watercolour Illustration
Carolynn Anctil © 2014

There are so many - SO MANY (!) - amazing blogs out there in Bloggerland with incredible content. They're polished, have the perfect layout and all the snazzy buttons...well, you know what I mean. You love them, but they're just so damn perfect, you know? Not a hair out of place. They're like McGyver on steroids and, let's face it, that can be a little intimidating.

It may not be necessary to state the obvious, but if you're new to my blog or have been following along for a while and need a reminder - here's how I roll.

I'm not a commercial blogger. I write because I need to.  I post photos of things I've noticed and that speak to me in some way. Lately, I've been working on my illustration skills. I don't get paid a commission with every mouse click you make. 

I don't post every day, or even every week, if recent events are any indication.

In case you haven't noticed, I don't have a theme I adhere to or even any particular style, which is pretty near to what you'd find if we bumped into each other on the street. I'm a pretty WYSIWYG* kinda gal, which I'd like to think is part of my charm. (I'll also use words like 'gal' without batting an eyelash).  

If pressed to describe the path my life takes, I'd have to say that it most closely resembles a great big body of water. Think Atlantic Ocean big. 

I'm the little guy in the bright yellow life raft, bobbing around somewhere in the middle there. See, look. I'm waving. 

Sometimes, the ocean is calm and I can enjoy a bit of a nap while taking in the sunshine and nibbling on a little something from my supply kit. At other times, the waves are rough, tossing me around like the proverbial cork. They raise me up high where I can get a glimpse of a future spent on beach chairs under luscious palm trees and at other times I'm in the trough, paddling my little heart out and puking over the side.

Life's like that. My blog is a repository for memories of my experiences, my own personal therapist, and my playground, all rolled into one. It can be a bit of a messy place, at times, and I'm okay with that.

I'd like my virtual home to be more organized and pretty. I'd LOVE it if it actually earned its keep. The reality is, my blog is a snapshot of my actual life, the act of which gets more of my energy on any given day. 

Maybe one day, I'll achieve the bright, shiny website of my dreams. I have a name picked out for it and everything. 

In the meantime, pull up a comfortable chair, put your feet up, grab a beverage, and let's visit like old friends.

Tell me, where has your dinghy taken you today? I'd really like to know.

* * * * * *

Incidentally, I also sell my artwork and am not above shamelessly telling you, from time to time, that you can buy the fruits of my labour here. A girl's gotta make a living somehow.

*WYSIWYG - "What you see is what you get"

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Diver

The Diver
Original Watercolour Illustration
Carolynn Anctil © 2015

I've been enjoying a bit of quiet time to myself the last few weeks, creating in my studio. 

The weather has been warm enough for the hens to be let outside into the run for a bit of fresh air several days in a row and it's given me a chance to do a little heavier clean up inside their coop. The occasional cricket treat and pot of cat grass makes for very happy girls.

I've also been doing a bit of reading and these are some of the books on my virtual bedside table, all of which I would highly recommend.

* The Crabby Angels Chronicles by Jacob Glass

* Discovering Your Soul Signature by Panache Desai

* E2: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments by Pam Grout

* The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte

* The fiction writing of Michael Robotham

What have you been up to lately? I'd love to know.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Year of the Chameleon

As 2014 was drawing to a close, someone posed a question to me. If 2015 was an animal, what animal would you want it to be and why?

Without having given it too much thought, Chameleon popped into my head. Not particularly fast moving, with the ability to adapt and occasionally reveal my colourful side.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that it's the perfect fit for me and the year I envision for myself. I was compelled to create a little sketch of my mascot for the year and look forward to enjoying his company.

What would your answer be? I'd love to hear.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

My Annual Word - 2015 Edition

For the past five years, I've chosen an Annual Word that serves as my guiding light for the year ahead. Even though the word I eventually chose last year never really felt like it manifested for me in any great way, I'm electing to carry this tradition into 2015.

This year, as in all but 2014, words have presented themselves to me in a number of ways so that, ultimately, I feel the words have chosen me, rather than the other way around.

Things look a little different this year. This year, there are three words that will serve as my touchstones for the next 365 days. The first two are: 

Faith and Trust

All indications are that 2015 is going to be a year that will challenge and test my ability to weather change. I've lived by these two words in the past and know that there is tremendous power inherent in them.

In addition, there's a third word that I'll call my Shadow Word. It's intimately linked with the first two and together they form my own personal holy trinity for 2015.


Surrender, as I understand it, does not mean to give up, but rather to give in to.

And so, it's with a hopeful heart and a fond wave to all I leave behind in 2014 that I turn to face the year 2015. 

May our paths continue to cross in the days ahead and may we embrace our choices with open hearts.

Previous Years
2010 - Authenticity
2011 - Wellness
2012 - Flow
2013 - Courage
2014 - Gentle

Have you chosen a word for 2015? I'd love to hear. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Just Another Ordinary Miracle

Today is New Year's Eve. I have no profound reflections to share or rituals to prepare for.

I'll be writing in my journal as I watch the sun brighten the horizon, like I do every morning. Eggs will be collected, the coop will be cleaned, and hens will be cuddled. My dog and cat will keep me company, shadowing my every move. Willow, ever the optimist, will hope for cheese treats and Luna will nap in a sunbeam.

Today, I'll vacuum up the dust bunnies and hang a new calendar on the wall before my husband and I join friends for dinner and a few laughs this evening. 

Tomorrow a new day will dawn, the start of a brand new year all bright and shiny with promise. Just another ordinary miracle unfolding before us.

Blessings to you. May you enjoy peace, love, joy, and prosperity in 2015.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

5 Days and Counting

Was anyone else shocked when they noticed the date on the calendar this morning? Christmas has really snuck up on me this year. I've done very little to prepare, have only sent a present to my mother, and have written no Christmas cards. 

Perhaps it's age, could be wisdom, most likely it's a form of apathy. In any event, I'm not overly worried about it and have decided to relax and just let the season wash over me like a gentle breeze. 

We've been blessed with mild-ish temperatures the last few weeks. Even the chickens have had several outdoor days. 

I decided to pick up my camera, blow the dust off it and take Luna and Willow for a little stroll around the property today.

I was delighted to discover that Mother Nature has been busy decorating.

How are you coping with the approaching holiday season?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Change is in the Air

I've been going through a period of upheaval in my life lately. Change is afoot and I'm not completely on board. It's too early to divulge any of the details, many of which haven't even been determined yet. The bottom line is, I'm not ready. And, therein lays the problem.

So, I do what I do in times like these. I ask for divine guidance, I watch for signs, I eat comfort foods.

I don't know if the approaching solstice has anything to do with any of this or if the Universe has simply determined that I've become too complacent and content with my life as it is. All the recent emotional turbulence has had me reflecting on the word I chose for 2014, though - Gentle.

For the first time since starting this practice 5 years ago, I don't feel that I've really lived into my Annual Word. There have been moments of gentleness, sure, the truth is though, I don't feel I can honestly lay claim to Gentle as my word for 2014. At the close of 2013, I waffled a lot, choosing and discarding 2 or 3 other words before finally settling on this one in late January. Upon reflection, I don't feel I really had a guiding word for 2014, after all. 2014 will have to be recorded in my personal annuls as a Wordless Year.

All of which has me approaching the practice of choosing an Annual Word with some trepidation. Please, God, don't make it too hard.

I'm interviewing candidates, looking for a word I can wrap myself around, chew on, and digest in 2015. There are a couple of worthy contenders and, interestingly enough, they have similar meanings. Even (and this is where it gets really interesting), when I close my eyes, and randomly choose a word from the dictionary. Freaky. 

I'll continue to cast my net in the coming days before partnering up with and committing to an appropriate muse for the next 365 days.

Did you have a word in 2014? Have you chosen a new one for 2015? I'd love to hear.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Crystal Chandelier

I took this photograph in a restaurant we visited while on vacation in Vancouver this past May.

I loved this playful, creative take on the traditional crystal chandelier. Don't you think that would be a lovely way to display those mismatched crystal glasses that seem to accumulate in our cupboards?

* * * 

And so we arrive at Day Five of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.  I've thoroughly enjoyed this exercise. It requires a different eye and a different thought process to photograph in black and white. I think I'll be doing more of this style in the future.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Elegant Beauty

I reworked this photograph I took last year into a black and white image. I love the stark and dramatic sculptural quality and texture of this flower. Even in death, it still offered itself up to the wild birds that came to feed in the dead of winter and there's an elegant beauty in that.

* * * 

Day Four of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Luna Black and White

I love this girl something fierce. My constant companion, she's equal parts intrepid explorer, playful imp, deep thinker, accomplished hunter, loyal friend, and cuddler extraordinaire. And, she doesn't seem to mind having a camera in her face.

* * * 

Day Three of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Melancholy Scent

The other day, I caught the unmistakable scent of pine tree when my husband and I approached a local big box store and I felt a little melancholy. 

I love the wide open spaces of my new prairie province and miss the grandeur and majesty of my home province of British Columbia. 

This pine cone is one of only a few that I brought with me when we moved.

* * * 

Day Two of the 5 Day B&W Photo Challenge.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Black and White Christmas

As November swiftly draws to a close, I find my thoughts turning to Christmas and, as they do every year, I dream of days spent in cozy comfort. A fire blazing in the fireplace, a cat snoozing beside me, and a fresh dusting of snow gently carpeting the landscape beyond our windows.

* * *

I've been nominated to participate in the 5 Days of Black and White Photo Challenge on Facebook and will share my images here, as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Taste of Summer

What does this look like to you?

I'll bet it looks a lot like an oasis in the desert to my chickens; a short vacation in the sun. 

I'm looking forward to watching them sink their little toes into this grass while they enjoy a tasty treat today.

May the day bring unexpected joys your way today!

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