Saturday, November 20, 2010

Canal Du Midi

 This past September, Nigel and Kristin did a kayaking trip across the south of France. Is it possible to kayak across the south of France you may wonder? Mais oui! But of course! Using the Canal du Midi, the Canal Lateral, and the Garronne River and Gironde estuary, they managed over 150 locks and many portages.
Not only that, they did it in the "Doubleshot", the tandem kayak that Nigel designed for Point 65.
It was really a fun way to do the trip, being close, observing and chatting as well as working together to reach their goal of over 600 kilometers. The scenery was rich, as were the fantastic cheeses they were able to sample along the way.
Tent pitched on the canal's bank, they enjoyed some lovely wines, Gigondas, St. Emilion and Chateau Margaux to mention a few.
Carcasonne, with its medieval city and the Cloisters at Moissac were two of the historical highlights that they took time to see.
After the confines of the canals, being on a river was expansive and exhilarating! There is a large tidal bore, or "mascaret" which makes its way far up the Garonne and is surfable at spring tides. At neaps, it is still rushing along at 10 to 12 mph!
Nigel and Kristin got to experience it in the evening from their camp beside the chateux and vineyards at Portets.
On their way again, current assisted, they reached their final destination, Royan at night. By then, the wind was blowing and Altantic swell was smacking the Doubleshot from the side. Once in the harbor, they could hardly see because the rain was pelting down so hard. But as they had come to say to each other over the course of the trip, "Its better to be lucky than smart". And once again, they were lucky. Nigel and Kristin will be doing presentations about their vacation in the south of France in the coming months and in 2011. No dates yet, but Portland Kayak Co. has put in a request.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Robert Tatin

After paddling across the south of France with Nigel, I thought about where I had been. This visit to The Musee de Robert Tatin, in Cosse le Vivien, France, came as a gift to us the day before we left France.
Maria, Camilla's sister, had seen my work and was so insistent that we should see this unusual place that she stopped everything she was doing and, despite the fact that it was pouring down with rain among other things, offered to take us there.
We could not refuse.
Trusting her enthusiasm, we hopped into the car and sped along narrow roads and through torrents of rain to this personal shrine.
Robert Tatin lived here for the last 21 years of his life. He is buried on the site. Though she moved out of the house so that this special place can be shared by many, a place is waiting for his wife, Lise, to join him when she is ready.
Tatin traveled widely and his imagery reflects this. Figures reminiscent of Incan gods and Indian goddesses populate the meditation garden. The figures all seem happy and content. Harmony reigns. One will see strong influences of great, early 20th century artists like Picasso, Miro and Klee, but the over all effect of the environment is quite original.
   The glowering day could not dampen our delight. Heavy skies enhanced an aura of magic here as we wondered through the arcades, literally entering the world of Robert Tatin.
Cement and wire armatures were used to construct the sculptures and buildings on the land around a centuries old stone farm house. With in the labyrinth of the Meditation garden, one will visit numerous chambers and see displayed paintings, prints and ceramics also by Tatin.
A tour of his house was the cherry on the cake.
The space was small, yet so well organized.
White plastered walls with shelving sculpted into them and chunky wooden furnishings lent the place a doll house/caveman like ambiance. Unfortunately no photos allowed inside.
Though it was Sunday and the weather was inclement, the museum was packed. It was so easy to spend time there! One wanted to absorb as much of the positive energy generated by such an out pouring of creativity as possible.

Thank you Maria,


Monday, May 31, 2010


Swallows swift, swallowing
bugs, pond's offering.
A meal on the fly!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cherry blossoms

Drizzle, dripping cloud
Weeping cherry blossoms pink
Drop petal puddles

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Color Infusion

With spring comes an infusion of color!
In gardens and in my work!
I'm walking to the studio most everyday, even on the rainy ones.
The subtle shades of green and mauve that color the helebores work nicely on sets of tiny nesting bowls too.
Yet all the colors are so fresh! Its difficult to know, which combination work best?
Chartreuse, yellow pink...
Think new growth and youth!

Bright heather...
Prepare yourself
for fleshy pink and purples that have a sweet sexiness to them.
One can sip and nibble a menu of color.
to recall those gardens beyond the window pane.
Be joyful for that golden burst of crocus!
Celebrate Spring!
Enjoy one of each!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It was 2004 when Nigel and I paddled 675 miles of uninhabited coastline in Labrador, Canada. The destination was chosen to complete a journey that Nigel had begun in 1981.
From Kuujjuaq we headed north, following the eastern skirts of Ungava Bay. At high tide the landscape was vast and flat. When it dropped, we paddled through ragged valleys, battling the currents sweeping out from every narrow channel.

There were plenty of awkward landings involving steep climbs, but they allowed us to reach the high, dry land we needed to pitch our tents. We earned some spectacular views too!

Though uninhabited today, the region had been traveled for over 7000 years by Arctic peoples. It was our good fortune to encounter the signs they left behind. Piles of stones called "Inukshuks", often stacked to look like a person, were a fair indicator of a reliable camp spot. We frequently used stones from the tent circles of earlier visitors, (replacing them where we found them when we left) and slept in the company of ancient graves.
Our adventures led us to more recent ruins as well. The Moravian missionaries had set up missions in this region during the 1700's and 1800's. Our detours to Ramah and Hebron were rich, inspiring our imaginations about the inhabitants and the lives they lived there long ago! Minke whale escorts into Ramah made us feel like we were returning home. Crumbling remains at Hebron provided us with extra shelter. The men we met at that site had grown up here but were relocated to villages in the south in 1959 by the Canadian government. Now they had returned, on a government grant, to restore the old mission building. Particularly engaging was the shaman, Sim, who offered us insights into Inuit philosophy and gave us a great travel tip for the next leg of our journey! (find out about that in the book!)
There was once a Hudson Bay Co. store at this location too.
We took the opportunity to rest up and explored what was left of the place.

Eating was a huge part of our trip, not because we were doing it all the time, but, because it was such a point of pleasure and comfort after the days exertions! Of course we used ceramic dishes from Kri Kri Studio in Seattle!
That we could have used more calories was a given. Our kayaks had been loaded to their maximum capacity when we started, however, so when we could begin supplementing our diet with mushrooms, then blueberries and mussels as we got further south on the Labrador coast,
we certainly did!
Entering Manvers run, the final leg of our journey, we came upon the cabin of Jim Anderson and his wife, Helena. We spent one night with them, sharing a meal of arctic char, which they caught and mushrooms that Nigel and I had found. After we retired to our tent, the Northern Lights decended, showering us in an eerie green glow.
The next morning visitors came to the cabin. One of the aunties requested that we leave a message in the guest book at her cabin, since we would be passing it on our way in to Nain.
On account of the bears, the key was a hammer that one used to remove planks nailed across the door and to put them back!
Inside was compact and cozy! We wrote our note and continued on.
By the end, fuel was also running a little short. Nigel built and efficient fire pit over which we boiled berries, cooked mushrooms and steamed mussels, waiting for a break in the weather for the last stretch of paddling.

Locals who knew we were still out in the wilds made a stop by our camp to deliver some snacks and find out how we were doing.

We had been paddling for 5 weeks by the time we reached Nain. When we arrived, we indulged our appetites eating and resting, watching the food channel on TV and waiting for the arrival of "The Northern Ranger", the coastal steamer. The coastal steamer would take us back to Happy Valley Goose Bay where we once again would hop into our trusty Jeep to return to Seattle.
Now there is a book out about our adventures; "Stepping Stones", written by Nigel Foster and published by Outskirts Press.
You can purchase it though his web store (just click on the book!) or any at major book sellers'.
It includes tales about our encounters with polar bears and much about the history of Labrador and it's nature.
you are welcome to visit too!