It's nearly here, that joyous, tiring, tension-fraught, hopeful, WONDERFUL time of year . . . CHRISTMAS! Part of the special magic to me, is that most people are celebrating a special holiday within the boundaries of this time frame, so all people can unite in celebration, even if they are celebrating different things.
Here at Sheltie Hollow, preparations are well under way. I have the ice candle made and waiting in the freezer for Solstice night when it will go out in the garden to be lit and shine through the longest darkest night.
With the weather this year, it's a toss up as to whether it will burn out or melt first, but out it will go anyway, to mark the shortest day/longest night of the year. This is the day that Winter officially arrives, and I hope he hears our welcome and wanders our way soon.
In the kitchen, the animals are helping me bake cookies and make the Tourtiere for Christmas Eve, except the one I make is my Irish Grandmother's recipe, more of a meat pastie than a French Canadian Tourtiere. It's all about Tradition.
I really am the world's worst pastry maker, but every year I feel compelled to actually make the pastry, not just open a box. It's about not letting my Grandmother and my Aunt down. So every year I say a little prayer before I begin, asking for their help in this monumentally difficult task. Every year they look down on me and help me get the pastry rolled out and in the pie plate without too much trouble. But this year, I have a feeling they were sitting together on a cloud, sipping angelic Sherry and laughing together, because this time, a series of mini disasters overcame my pastry, culminating in the top layer suddenly going limp in my hands just before it collapsed in a ball on top of the filling! As they say, try, try again, and finally a new circle of pastry landed where it should, smooth and white and ready for the oven. I was left happy, but a nervous wreck.
The animals are a great help with the baking, keeping me company as they sniff the good scents coming from the oven and offering to taste just about everything. But it wouldn't be half as much fun, baking without them there.
So now the cookies casseroles and the tourtiere are in the freezer, the tree is up (miraculously Still up despite a kitten in the house) and the coloured lights shine through the darkness. All that is left is for me to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and PEACE TO ALL ON EARTH.
Til next time,
Heather Anderson www.heatheranderson-animalart.com
It actually started with any dog, cat or horse that crossed my path. I wanted to hug and pet every single one, but cautious parents quickly thwarted that desire. So the moment I could read, I chose books about them, and eventually a lovely Fate introduced me to Albert Payson Terhune's books. That was it, I was in love for life, and I began to plague my parents for a dog, and not just any dog, it had to be a Collie, just like Lad and Grey Dawn. A cat and horse also figured in my perceived needs, but first I WANTED a dog. . . . .. .. ....I wanted a Collie. When my parents decided that a dog of my own was not going to happen until I was older, and a cat and a horse were just NOT going to happen, I threw myself into drawing and painting them, so I had lots of pets, but they were all on paper. Eventually, as I entered my Teens, they broke down and allowed me to have the Collie I had been saving for, and a beautiful, quirky, totally wonderful Tricolour Collie came into my life. But now my desire to draw and paint them better became a constant challenge, and eventually, as an adult who had already embarked unenthusiastically on a teaching career, it led me to Art School and a longed for career as an animal artist. I think I have the best job in the world! Each morning I walk down the hall to my studio, accompanied by our Shelties and cats and I spend the day painting lovely animals. And yes, I did finally get my horse, and he was with us until he passed away at age 33, after spending 19 wonderful years with us.
In ensuing blogs, I will talk about the sometimes perilous joys of painting, life in the country, and about the animals I've known, my own and others that have made an impression on my heart, and I will post photos of them, and paintings in which they have been my models. Many of these painting images can be found as small prints or note cards in my ETSY shop, THE DOG ART GALLERY. I hope you will drop by soon and have a look. Til then, Take care, and Be Happy! Heather