Three in One Post

This is a three-in-one post. If you read all the way to the bottom there are links  to two other guest posts as well. 

I am letting you know right now – no painting happened this week. In fact, I am not sure why I thought I might get some painting done this week as I was off on a road trip to celebrate one of my special person’s ninth birthdays.

Complete with backpacks, ferries, coach lines, city buses and two feet my daughter and I made the trip over to Vancouver and back again. Okay, we had a diaper bag and my big camera too, plus 7½ week old Coen in a bjorn front carrier. It worked great because Josie could tend to the baby’s needs at any point which is not so easy in a car. Here we are on our return trip having peppermint tea sitting in front of the most beautiful big bay window in the old railway station that is now the bus station in Vancouver.

And yes, we are in McDonald’s. My first visit in about 20 years. They always say that McDonald’s doesn’t sell food but an experience. This was the case here. That window seat overcame any resistance I had. Then when I went to the counter and found I could buy a peppermint tea and it came in a paper compostable cup, I was in! This reminds me to never say never because someday you might.

As I reflect on the most amazing three days with family, I thought about how yesterday, starting early in the morning, we began to go our separate ways. No fuss was made. They were quiet good-byes. One after another we parted until there was just me left to return to Mayne Island. Deeply held connections released until we have a chance to get together again.

When I hear of families who have big explosions and fight their way through a visit I am often puzzled. What makes it so we can slip into a time together, enjoy each other’s company and slip back out again with my feeling enriched, blessed and a love that is shared? It is not that we are a perfect family. We have many human shortcomings. We have the usual challenges and worries that come with life. We are not a well off family but we have enough for quality food, basic shelter, health care and sometimes a wee bit more. Educationally we are all over the map. This diversity leaves us with an implicit understanding that learning and intelligence are only loosely related to our formal educational institutions. We are, on the whole, pretty-ordinary-though-sometimes-quirky, folks.

If you were observing, you may think nothing much happened during our visit. You would be right. We went for dinner one night to celebrate my grandson Arrow’s birthday The next night we had Smokies and Greek salad on his actual birthday with a small chocolate cheesecake topped with nine candles before the hockey game started. That was it. Simple. I don’t even have any pictures of the candles being blown out. At nine you still love your birthday but it is a bit embarrassing to be the centre of attention and have everyone singing happy birthday. That combination of pink cheeks and smiling happiness is just too vulnerable for a photograph. It would take away from the moment instead of adding to it.

Including the one above, here are a few photographs I did take. Are there any clues in these? What is it that made for such a special time?

A little family couch time.

It is the first day the cousins meet. I think there might be a life-time bond of friendship forming already.

The birthday invitations for a friends party on Saturday are done up using Photoshop with a little help from Dad.

The small antique wooden table they are working on in the kitchen is the same table I bought for my son when he first set up his own home at about 17 or 18 years old. We sometimes keep things in our family for a long time.  While other times, things go off to new homes between us or to friends or are set out on the side of the street for free. Items with a primary use or a story seem to hang around the longest. Little is found to be needed and wants are carefully considered and then indulged.

Auntie has a chance for a cuddle .

The cousins hanging out on the morning we are leaving. 

When I asked Arrow if he found it hard to hold a wiggling baby, he replied: “Not really. It is easier than playing video games.” So there you have it.

Sprout question: How does time with your family support your creative expression?

Also, this week I have two guest posts up that I encourage you to drop by for a read.

They are:

When the Ground Tremors” at Alison Elliot’s Life by Design.


Word of the Year: Bold (Terrill Welch)” at Stacey Curnow’s

Midwife for your Life’s Blog.


All the best of the weekend to you!

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

FromMayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at

A Close Read and Doing Nothing

On this Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2011 I could have posted something red. Instead, I am going to write about something read. We have an old joke in our house about doing nothing. It is not ours but one we heard it someplace and it has been adopted by us. The joke goes something like this…

I ask “David what are you doing?”

David replies “Nothing.”

I say “But you did that yesterday.”

David confirms “Yes, but I’m not finished yet.”

The art of doing nothing is a highly underrated creative skill. To do it well, a person may need to revise their world view. One aspect of doing nothing I like to indulge is taking the time for a close read. You see, I don’t skim very often when I read. I burrow in and engage in conversation with the authors or with the characters in the story.  I write in the margins. I dog-ear pages. I leave stickies for markers and notes. I muse and mutter. I laugh and cry. I devour the content as I read. This is what I call “a close read.”

You might ask “where do you find the time?”

Well, it comes back to developing the art of doing nothing which brings me to the circular place of my latest close read.

Waking at just before 4:00 am on Sunday, and it being so close to Valentine’s Day, I wanted to let my sweetie sleep peacefully for another few hours. Actually, even if it wasn’t close to Valentine’s Day I would do this out of respect and love. In la casa de inspiracion, with its open floor plan, this means doing nothing. Yes, I made some toast, smeared it with nut butter, and brewed a small pot of coffee but I didn’t start the laundry or turn on some music, or do yoga in the great room or phone a friend out east. Instead I grabbed my book and slipped up to the loft with my toast and coffee.

Can you guess what I am reading? It is WHERE THE HEART RESIDES: Timeless Wisdom of the American Prairie (1999) by Daisy Ann Hickman. Yes, that is right, the very same Daisy who comments on Creative Potager and who asked me to be a guest blogger on the Sunny Room Studio blog in January. We exchanged books a few weeks back. In the mail from Brookings, South Dakota, arrived this beautiful hardcover gem. I know there is a place for e-books but there is still something blessedly tactile about running my hand over a hardcover book and slipping its jacket off to see what it looks like underneath before beginning to turn its paper pages one by one.

So early on Sunday morning, curled up under a down quilt in the quiet darkness set slightly aside by a small reading light, I began to read. What follows, more or less in order, are a few dog-eared, sticky and pencil-marked quotes about doing nothing that can be found within the later part of the first 30 pages of Daisy’s remarkable book about her beloved prairie…

“From a great crop to a new baby or a bountiful garden, life itself seemed to be enough, and being without a new car, a new anything, was not automatic cause for alarm or dismay.”

“Especially useful in today’s society, with its plenitude of distractions, multitude of ways to avoid and hide from reality, legion of false definitions of success built into a fast-paced society to the point where values and priorities have been distorted, twisted and abolished, where many have simply given up, and where many are looking for an easy way out, a shortcut through life offering nothing but bliss and good times, I cherish the lessons of land, sky and wide-open space. Because oddly enough, with all we have created as a society, genuine happiness seems more elusive than ever: just when we believe we have found it, we being to complain as our discovery begins to feel strange, empty, or curiously nondescript.”

“So now, as we consider a perspective that results in doing more of what counts, less of what causes you to lose your way, you will be ever closer to envisioning a road map to the heart.”

“The prairie offers an enlightened alternative, one that teaches something powerful and true: Doing less paves the way for doing more.”

“Because, curiously enough, time to do less often results in something more: time to recharge and regroup; time to stay in touch with feelings, values, beliefs, and of course, people; time to let events unfold naturally, at their own unique pace; time to do things that support your dreams so you may grow old gracefully, knowing few stones were left unturned.”

“Hectic schedules, a hurry-up, do-it-now mentality, cannot compare or compete with the persistent beauty and quiet strength of the prairie. As we scramble about each day, dashing here, dashing there, the land does the opposite, and without a word speaks to our souls, touches our hearts, and reaches out, like a laser, to connect with our finer, more discriminating sides.”

“When your day is jammed full of must-do, can’t-wait items, there isn’t time for casual exchanges; there is little opportunity for the unexpected, unplanned, spur-of-the-moment cup of coffee with an old friend, the walk to the park with your son or daughter or spouse. Still, these are activities that contribute to a way of life that promotes the importance, the fundamental value, of the human connection: without fail, without exception, without excuse.”

“For encouragement, remind yourself that the less you do, the more you will do: of what counts; of what makes you feel alive and growing; of what helps you become a fully realized human being.”

(Water colour painting “Canadian Prairie” – 2002 – by Terrill Welch)

What are my intentions for this week? To do nothing – prairie fashion.

And you might say “but you did that last week.”

I think you know my response but just in case… “I’m not finished yet.”

I wish you an amazing Valentine’s Day filled with love, hope and time to do nothing.

Sprout question: When was the last time you creatively did nothing prairie fashion?

Thank you Daisy Ann Hickman for coming into my life and being part of our Creative Potager community.

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Treetop Views

The sun is out. The end of the year is upon us. We are going high up for a look around.

A grand view always has me reflecting on my blessings. I usually sort of hop-skip up and down and exclaim about how wonderful it is to be alive.

David laughs and we both grin one of those big grins where our teeth show and our eyes snap as if we are keeping a secret. This past year we have tramped the island trails regularly. We have meandered along the roads. We have washed our hands in the Salish Sea. We have sat quiet watching as the light changes on the trees.

This year of 2010 has been a good year.

Happy New Year dear friends! May you notice the blessings you receive.

Sprout question: What are you most treasured memories for 2010?

On Monday shall see Creative Potager begin a new posting schedule with Monday and Friday being the book-ends for the week with the occasional surprise post in the middle. Monday will be used to set my intention for the week and Friday will be a report out on the results. So off into 2011 we go!

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Edge of the Sea

Standing close, feeling the softness of the smudged edge of the sea, being washed into a possibility.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of our USA Creative Potager friends… may your year be bountiful with simple abundance and love. It is a perfect day for us all to take a moment and count our blessings.

Sprout question: What are you grateful for today?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Summer Holidays

A young boy, maybe 11 years old, coasts his bike down the hill towards us. He makes eye contact and grins. I grin back. No words are necessary. It is the first week of summer holidays. The evening is warm and the sun is coming down between trees with bugs dancing in its soft rays.

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With the tide being low, I am able to get closer to where the seals sunbathe in Oyster Bay. I can’t help thinking how their shapes on the rocks mirror the jaggedness of coastal mountains across the water. How many years of July days have seals rested on these rocks?

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We walk on and coming to Reef Bay. Carefully I meander out onto the sandstone. Tall grasses are trapped in a golden glow in front of the beach house.

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But it is the waves that are calling me. Sitting on the warm sandstone, I study them. I listen. I feel. I smell. I see. I engage with their presence….

wave one

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wave two

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wave three

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and wave four

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I hope you have enjoyed your summer evening walk with me here on Mayne Island… swisssshhhhh!

Sprout Question: Are you taking your creativity for a summer holiday?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada