another year over   14 comments

Posted at 2:46 pm in Uncategorized

a pairing of the oldest and most recent photos of the Round Hill house which I have been working on for two summers

This year, it seems that many fellow bloggers have been assembling a sort of year-end roundup of noteworthy posts. I don’t recall having done so the past, but thought I would give it a shot. I’m including a few photos and events that were never blogged about due to lack of time and energy on my part.

If there is a theme for this year, it is probably People. This was the year in which friends and family came and went through my crazy mixed-up world, or in which I visited others during my nomadic wanderings. Last winter, friends flew from Ontario and British Columbia to visit me while I was down in Bisbee. We did quite a bit of walking around town and a couple of friends lucked on to being here in time for the Central School Project Mystery Ball, in which I had an installation entitled, Life’s Little Mysteries (click on that link to see photos of some of the pieces which were part of my installation).

My winter in Bisbee ended with seeing in the new season of moths and butterflies, and painting an art chair which was later donated to a silent auction fundraiser for the new Montessori school here in town. Soon after, I was headed northward back to my home in Ontario, and later onwards, to the old house which I’m restoring at Round Hill, Nova Scotia. Speaking of the old house, I decided to kick off this post with a pairing of the first photo I took of the front of the house in April 2010, and the most recent photo which was taken in late September 2011. As you can see, the place is looking much happier these days (click on these and most of the other photos in this post to see larger views). This coming summer, I will rebuild all the original windows for the downstairs (upstairs was done this past summer). I intend to get the well and water system operational again, along with a bunch of other tasks.

Jerry next to a model of a Tancook Whaler at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

This summer saw many changes at the Round Hill house. I’ll insert the odd link to what were, for me, major developments. The first of these was the planting of several new rhododendrons, along with seeing how those I planted last year made out.

During my time at Round Hill, several new people came into my life while I worked away on the old house. The first of these was Jerry, a Swedish couchsurfer, who asked to spend a day or two at my place before going on to do some woofing (working in exchange for living with families) on a lobster boat, and then a whale watch tour boat. Jerry was to return and spend a couple of more days at my place before returning to Sweden. We have kept in touch by skype and email as we share many interests. He is a retired museum curator from Stockholm, and as some of you may know, I have an Art History degree. Both of us have studied West Coast art of the First Nations, so it turned out that we had quite a bit to talk about.

Nicole from Whippletree Farm, at the Annapolis Royal Farmers’ Market (photo by Jerry Lantz)

During Jerry’s first visit to my place, he and I became acquainted with Nicole and Stewart who own Whippletree Farm, a CSA (community supported agriculture) organic farm which happens to be just a stone’s throw down the road from my old house at Round Hill. Jerry snapped this great photo of Nicole while she was at her table at the Annapolis Royal Farmers’ Market early this summer. Over the course of the season, I enjoyed plenty of nice produce purchased from the Whippletree table each Saturday morning when I dropped by the market. Although I had my own vegetable garden, it was fun to see what was available from Nicole and Stewart as they grow many varieties of heritage vegetables.

Faustine, a couchsurfer from France, with lilies which I bought at Canning Daylily Gardens

Later this summer, another couchsurfer came into my life – Faustine, from Lyons, France. Faustine is a wonderful graphic artist who designs and illustrates books, websites, and many other types of media. She was looking for an organic farm on which to spend a short time woofing while in the Annapolis Valley region. Although I did not have suitable work for her, I spoke to Nicole and Stewart and they were pleased to have Faustine visit for a few days. I picked Faustine up in Grand Pré, and took her for a small side trip to visit Canning Daylily Gardens where she helped me choose an assortment of beautiful daylilies to bring home to my garden at Round Hill. Afterwords, we stopped to visit a very cool house being renovated by another friend who I met online last summer. We had quite a fun day touring around the Valley before I dropped Faustine off at Whippletree Farm. I have met several nice people through Couchsurfing, and can say that every visitor has brought something positive to my life.

As summer progressed, I spent evenings pursuing my usual form of relaxation, photographing night moths. By day, I also watched for butterflies to photograph in an effort to contribute records to the Maritimes Butterfly Atlassing project. This was a cool and rainy summer in the Atlantic provinces, so my sightings were rather few in number, but I look forward to a better season in 2012.

In June, I acquired a gas-powered weed eater machine and began clearing walking trails throughout the property, and a place to sit down by Round Hill Brook. If you happen to follow that link, you will also see that I began tackling the replastering of the upstairs of the house – an activity that was to keep me quite busy for the remainder of my stay.

the front garden becomes a neat camp-out site during my family’s visit in August

In August, the interior of the house had progressed to the point that I felt ready to invite my mom and youngest brother to come for a visit. The above photo is a scene from the front garden where we pitched a tent for extra space, and set up the barbecue and a little fire pot. In the evenings, my brother and I sat out in the garden playing musical instruments and looking up at the incredibly starry night skies for which this part of Nova Scotia is so well known.

my mother scraping old decals off window glass in the upstairs hall, while Sage sleeps nearby

By day, we worked on the house, with my mom and brother helping me with some tasks which I had had trouble getting around to — changing light fixtures, buying and hauling home a full size refrigerator, repairing a section of cornice moulding that was too high for me to safely reach. My mother took on the job of doing much of the rebuilding of the upstairs windows. She hates being photographed, but I did manage to snap the above photo of her scraping off some fake stained glass mac-tac stuff that was stuck to one of the windows in the upstairs hall.

my youngest brother, Randy, walking across a bridge over one of the upper reaches of Round Hill Brook

Randy and I also escaped for a couple of afternoons to explore the upper reaches of Round Hill Brook – a small river that flows past my property. On one afternoon, we took a couple of inexpensive inflatable kayaks that we got at Canadian Tire Store, and went paddling through the most beautiful stretch of river flowing through wetlands and forest. It was a wonderful day and made me all the more determined to bring my canoe out from Ontario to Nova Scotia to use this summer. The Annapolis Valley is one of the best canoeing regions in Nova Scotia, so I hope to do more exploring of the lakes and rivers in 2012.

By summer’s end it really felt like the house at Round Hill was taking shape in a good way. I must admit that, from time to time, I have felt like it was too crazy a project – and in fact, it actually is — but at least the place is becoming inhabitable and closer to my goal as a summer studio where family and friends can hang out to relax, play music, create art, and observe nature.

Soon enough, it was time to head west to Ontario to take care of some of the more mundane aspects of my life, such as getting maintenance done on the van in preparation for the long migration to Bisbee. It’s also a good time to get together with old friends whom I’ve known from over three decades spent on our farm in eastern Ontario. Although the farm is gone, my friends remain. It’s fun to touch base whenever we can all arrange our schedules to get together.

As autumn came to an end, it was time to think about my southward journey. This year, I chose to cut across the midwest, reversing the route which I first tried this past spring. I must admit to not caring much for the route, but it was made considerably pleasanter and entertaining by a a brief meet-up with blogger friend, Larry Ayers while I was passing through Illinois enroute to a stop-off at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, before continuing on to Bisbee.

a great thrift shop find from Penny Lane in Bisbee

Once in Bisbee, life maintained a hectic pace, with a visit to see Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen’s exhibit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, in Tucson. This was followed by the Central School Project’s Hallowe’en bash featuring mambo bands. I dressed up as a Catrina character, the female skeleton from Day of the Dead celebrations – see my photo below. Unfortunately, as I’m not accustomed to wearing makeup of any kind, my eyes became so irritated that even after the makeup was long gone, I went around looking like a zombie with very bloodshot eyes for several days.

The last major event of the year was the Cochise College Pit Fire Party in November. Beyond that, I’ve just been getting rested up from the demanding season of work on the old house and its property. Already, I am making job and material lists for the coming season’s work. However, I’m trying to make time for a bit of socializing (but I am still quite the hermit), and some music. Also, I seem to get myself into occasional trouble at the local thrift shops – as evidenced by the above pair of scorpion cowboy boots.

As this year comes to a close, I have been reflecting upon how things are going in my life. Being without Don hasn’t actually gotten any easier. In fact, I would say that this past week of xmas holiday has ranked right up there among the worst for sadness and loneliness. However, brushing that aside, I guess I am doing okay for about 39 months of being alone. This past year has seen me become somewhat more comfortable with being almost constantly alone between the occasional comings and goings of visitors. It still feels strange and I wish I could return to my old life, but that’s impossible, so I carry on. At least I can say that life has not been too boring – I manage to keep things rolling along at a pretty good clip.

Best wishes to friends and family in the coming year.

Written by bev wigney on December 31st, 2011

14 Responses to 'another year over'

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  1. Thanks for this fascinating year-end round-up, Bev. I’m sure the holidays have been difficult – it would be the same for me – but I admire the way you keep going and growing. My best wishes to you for 2012.


    31 Dec 11 at 3:22 pm

  2. This is such a rich look back at the year, Bev. I love all the photos, seeing your mom working on the windows, and your brother walking along the brook– really very lovely. But that last photo of you, well, I had to run and show it to Roger. Ah, that’s Bev. Such a moment.

    Happy New Year!

    robin andrea

    31 Dec 11 at 3:48 pm

  3. Bev, I really enjoyed your recap. Though I’ve read many, if not all, of your posts throughout the year, this was a very nice remembrance of your experiences over the past twelve months. Though I still don’t have it nailed down, I plan to get to Bisbee before you leave for Nova Scotia; I hope next year’s recollections will include time spent with your strange Texan friend and his favorite wife! I hope the New Year is all you want it to be, Bev, and that it provides all the comfort you need and deserve.


    31 Dec 11 at 4:16 pm

  4. always a place to park, and even an indoors bed, in Bishops Mills.


    31 Dec 11 at 7:24 pm

  5. loved looking back. i remain stunned at the progress you have made on the house. it looks quite beautiful, bev. a good year of work and results! love that you move between the two countries so easily and enjoy the best of both seasonally. sending you many good wishes for 2012 and some warm hugs across these many miles! happy new year, bev!


    31 Dec 11 at 9:03 pm

  6. Happy New Year, Bev. I’ve never known a turning of the year to feel so much like a turning, and many of the people I know seem to have the same, fragile hope, the same sense of maybe having struck the bottom of the trough.

    I don’t believe in that sort of thing, I suppose, yet I do, too 🙂 Anyway. Cheers! xo

    Dale Favier

    1 Jan 12 at 1:51 am

  7. Again . . . . the courage to reveal the pain . . .

    Still there – amidst the comings and goings, the planting and painting, the happy associations, the creativeness, the incredible progress on the house, the giving to community and friends . . .

    still there . .

    the lonely ache . . .

    I wish I could say I that I don’t understand it . . . . but I do.

    Bless you Bev. For the courage to say it . . . for the example you show in not dropping . . . in not succumbing.

    Your gifts are so many. May they sustain you in the New Year as people are drawn to the glow, the fire of you.


    1 Jan 12 at 11:40 am

  8. beth – Thanks! Yes, holidays are really difficult. I’m always kind of relieved when they are over for another year. Best wishes to you in 2012!

    robin – It was interesting to look back on the year. While you’re “in the moment” it doesn’t seem like that much is happening, but collectively, yes, a lot of things were going on from start to finish! Glad you like the Catrina photo. Every time I look at it, I feel quite amused as it doesn’t seem that much like me. Who is that strange person?!! (-:

    John – Glad that you enjoyed perusing through my “year in review”. It was fun to put it all together. I do hope that next year’s review will include a reference to my Texas friends! Still plenty of time until I depart for the season, so I’m sure it will happen!

    fred – Yes, and I appreciate knowing that. I plan to make a good effort to get together with you and Aleta and a few other eastern Ontario friends this spring. I feel more laid back about the Nova Scotia house now that the exterior is more weather-proofed and the upstairs windows fixed up. I don’t think I’ll have quite the feeling that I have to get back there to work, so will spend more time on the road and tripping around Ontario this spring.

    Sky – It’s interesting that you should mention the “moving between two countries”. For me, it is almost like moving between two planets. It’s an odd feeling, but one that I’ve grown to like, particularly the time “between” the two places. In many ways, *where* we are somehow defines *who* we are in those places. I don’t know if that is true for everyone, but I have found that to be so in my own case. Take care and all the best to you in 2012!

    Dale – Happy New Year to you too! I know a lot of people who have been feeling like 2011 was a nadir for them. I may have been a little ahead of the curve as I think 2009 was my “bad year” and that I’m slowly resurfacing now. I definitely know how it feels to hit the bottom! Here’s hoping that 2012 proves to be a good year for all of us! Take care.

    Cathy – Yes, in spite of all that I do, the pain is *still there*, so I have had to learn to live with it, and sometimes to make use of it. There actually does seem to be a connection between pain and creativity. When we are too happy, I think we may become a little complacent. The pain reminds us of the transience and fragility of life and makes us get out there living and doing. I think that is the thing that I have tried to take away from the experience of losing most of what I had. It has certainly been a life-changing event. I could succumb to the grief, but that would feel too much like losing. Better to go out fighting! As always, thanks for the thoughtful and often provocative comments, Cathy. They so often get me examining things in a different way. Best to you and yours in the coming year. Take care.

    bev wigney

    1 Jan 12 at 1:17 pm

  9. *


    1 Jan 12 at 4:04 pm

  10. Great to read your journal Bev. We love you! Carol & Jim

    Jim Poushinsky

    1 Jan 12 at 6:49 pm

  11. Your journey to the center continues to inspire me, bev. I seem to have lost my sense of direction in the past month or so but not my sense of being on a creative journey in the company of others.


    1 Jan 12 at 10:42 pm

  12. Hi Bev

    I really enjoyed your post. I am glad you and the dogs are enjoying Bisbee after all the hard work you put into your house the break was probably needed. I enjoyed the link to Faustine’s website she is really talented. You makeup for the Day of the Dead character for Halloween was very impressive it is too bad you reacted so strongly. All the best for the New Year.



    5 Jan 12 at 9:00 pm

  13. (o)


    17 Jan 12 at 8:08 pm

  14. Bev, how to grand to see the old house returning to her original self, and how beautifully you are repairing her. It has been a pleasure watching your year unfurling and reading your recap of it


    23 Jan 12 at 8:41 am

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