Shedding Those Extra Pounds! 

I watched THE MINIMALIST on New Years Day. It was inspiring, but it was also terrifying! I want to do this on some level, but geeez – I’m not single and I’m not thirty something!  I felt like crying. Well, truthfully , I did cry and I blame too many carbs on New Years Eve!   

Now, every year I try to set goals for myself – just like the rest of us!  You know-  eat right, drink less, exercise more! Gawd, I’m not very good at it! Looking after your health is overwhelming! 

And, I want to dejunk my life too, not just my gut! All this New Year pressure to change actually got me into a bit of a funk the past few days. 

What to do about it?  I knew I needed to clean the house after the usual Christmas chaos, so yesterday  morning I got up bright and early with the intention of giving the house a quick once over, so that I could get back to my painting.  The job was bigger than I anticipated! The floors were sticky , the bathroom was grungy , the laundry needed to be caught up.  You know that what I’m talking about!  But, instead of getting worn out,  the more I did , the better I felt. 

I started thinking back to “The Minimalist”   Documentary and then I gave myself permission to “not be perfect” and to get everything done at once , but to just do what I could in this moment and to reap the rewards of those small things. 

Now, my floors are washed and the bathroom is clean and here is the weight I shed in my kitchen!

Expired dry goods – yikes!  The seagulls will be happy! 

Extra plastic lids and paper bags I never use – these will hit the blue bin! 

Cereal leftover from making nuts and bolts and crackers – lots and lots of crackers!  I’m not going to eat these, but I’ll find someone who will!  I threw the KD in the pile just to make myself feel even more superior!

Sugar!!! Yuck!  To throw or give away 🙊

And, last but not least – My Give Away basket!  I always have one of these going – if I see something I don’t use, I throw it it in!  This is the start of my 2o17 dejunk my stuff basket!  I’m a huge supporter of  The Village Green Thrift Store here in Saskatoon.  It’s my only choice for recycling my useful items of clothing and household goods. 

Well, that’s a start – I think I dropped 30 pounds in one weekend!  Whoo hoo! 

Time to go cook that leftover bacon 😂Happy Minimizing!  

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Am I a painter or an imposter?


I’ve taken a recent hiatus from my love of photography to explore painting again.

Two years ago , I took a leave from my job at the credit union to go with my husband to Vancouver for a year.  He was working for  Kwantlen Polytechnic University  and I signed up for fine arts classes and began exploring life as a student. Although  I found going back to school full time after 25 years extremely challenging, I loved it!  Especially, the painting and drawing classes.

My main motivation for wanting to take a drawing and then a painting class was purely out of curiosity . I wanted to know if I could! The late  Garry Thurber, my father, was a very talented painter and sculptor and I wanted to know if he  had passed  down any of his creative genes to me.  I had not painted anything except a windowsill since  my high school art class in 1979!

I’ve been taking an art class with a local artist here in Saskatoon and I’m slowly finding the  courage to show my friends and family my paintings.   They  are  saying that they can see my dad’s style in mine and I am very complimented, but does that mean he has influenced my work, or  I am copying his?  I don’t know the answer to that yet, but I like to think that even in death, he has become my teacher and my mentor.

When I am trying to figure out how to paint something for the first time, I find myself staring at some of his earlier paintings (I feel very lucky to own a few great ones from the early 80’s) and I really study the way he painted his skies, his trees, his rocks and even the snow.  I study the lines in the trees, the depth in the shadows, how the light falls and which direction the wind was blowing . And, at times, I feel like he is talking to me through that canvas. I  hear him say ,” Michelle, you need more clouds –  give that sky a pop of color, use pink and orange and don’t be afraid to put hint of yellow or mauve in that snow !”   It sounds silly, I know!

Because I grew up watching him paint, I feel like I want to carry on the love of his style through my own paintings. Does that make sense? Maybe I just answered my own earlier question!

Dad got to see one of the paintings I did for my first year painting class before he passed away, and he told my he loved my sky!  That was a very momentous  day for me!

I’m blogging today first of all, because it’s been a long time – my last post was over a year ago!  And, I am excited for another reason! I have just emptied my first full tube of paint!  Laugh if you must, but I think it’s a monumental occasion and I am going to call myself a painter someday- lol!

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Born This Way

I haven’t posted to my Word Press blog in . . . . hmmmm, almost a year.  I have no excuse except lack of time and motivation.  But, this being Pride Week in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I thought why not post the digital media project that I made last year while attending Kwantlen.  Keep in mind that this project was an assignment where we had to use some of the tools that we learned in Photoshop – Puppet warp for example and that I still am an amateur!!!

A little background about the project if you can bear with me here. . . . I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for my project, but I knew that I wanted to work with the media I had on my computer rather than go out and shoot new photos and video.  I was cruising through the files owhen I found photos I had taken of two elementary school drawings by my daughter Megan when she was in kindergarten.  I took photos of them, because they were just so damn sweet and I didn’t want to ever lose them. At the same time I was in BC taking classes and paining over what to do for my project ,  Megan and her partner were planning their wedding for June 21, 2014.  I guess a light bulb went off and my project came to be.

Note, I really enjoyed putting this together and I did get an A for my efforts.  Hopefully, I will remember some of the things I learned and make another someday.

Also I just want to say Happy Anniversary to my daughter Megan Lane and her wife Taylor Leedhal.  They will be celebrating their one year anniversary on June 21st!

Born This Way copy


original drawings by Megan Lane

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Stay Tuned -I’ll be back!


I have really loved having my own photography website but, I didn’t find it a worthwhile financial investment.  I want to thank you Smugmug for the great service over the years.  My decision to end my term with them and look into my other options boiled down to the fact that most of my clients didn’t bother to order any prints.   I have a business page on Facebook , but I really don’t want to put my best work up there.   They are always changing their interface and they decide what gets changed – not me!  I am thinking that this WordPress site just may be the solution for me!  Stay tuned!  If it all works out, i’ll be back sharing more of my photography , stories and much much more!

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The Tragic Swan Song

The first time my husband Dave and I strolled through the picturesque gardens of Stanley Park we came across a spot called the Lost Lagoon, I was surprised and delighted to see a beautiful swan, his reflection shimmering in the water. I had seen swans before, but never one this close. While we were there, the lone swan spent his time gliding effortlessly back and forth in the little pond, pausing occasionally to greedily accept bits of bread  that people were aimlessly throwing into the water.
It turns out there are four swans left in the park and each time I walked by the lagoon I would stop to watch them and grab a few photos of course. I knew little about them, but I was in awe of their beauty and they are such willing photography subjects!
A few days ago, to my absolute delight the females were busy adding branches and grass to the nests that they had been built beside the paths on the trail. The males swam close by and occasionally busied themselves by helping to primp the nests and on one nest, even taking a turn on the eggs while their mate had a break and a bite to eat. I got excited over the possibility that very soon I may get to photograph a few cygnets (yes, I had to look that up!). Who doesn’t love baby birds?
I stood around watching long enough that I struck up a few conversations with others who had stopped to watch the nesting rituals. Soon, I met a lovely woman who is a volunteer in the park.  I’ll call  her The Swan Lady. She looks after the swans as lovingly as if they were her own children. She gave me a brief history about the swans and then introduced me to the two loving couples – the last of the fleet. Their names are Bijan, Marika and Tristan and Thea. The beautiful swan lady has several amazing posts and stories about the swans in Stanley Park on Flickr – I will track her down to confirm this, but I believe she is FernShade and if you love swans, lovely photography and amusing stories I urge you to check out her site.
My admiration for these beautiful creatures is growing along with my sadness. These lovely birds really are no more than captives of the park. Although they seem to be happy in their environment, they don’t know that they can’t fly. Their wings have been clipped (it’s called pinioning) because they are not native to this country. They don’t know that their eggs may not even hatch due to their inbreeding and if there is a cygnet, it will have little chance for survival. These eggs and the offspring of many of the birds here are easy prey for natural predators like the river otter and the raccoons.  Man is also a dangerous predator and continues to threaten the  existence of the swans in the park . Tourists who think it’s cute to feed them sugary snacks and other garbage have at times made these birds sick. They have also been seriously injured and even killed by ignorant people throwing rocks and by cyclists riding recklessly on the trails where they shouldn’t be riding at all. The most tragic loss of all has been the recent loss of little Isolde, Tristan’s former mate. She was captured and roasted over a makeshift firm by a group of destitute individuals camped out deep in the park. Her remains where found alongside charred wood and empty whiskey bottles.
Spending time talking to many people that live around here about the swans has been both rewarding and disheartening. The park has looked after their charges very well over the years, but I find it sad that they have had to face so many challenges.  I don’t get the sense that these swans will be replaced once they are gone.  I hope not – even though many people love them, it just doesn’t seem right to me.  There are many native species of birds that live near the waters of the lagoon that photographers and bird lovers like myself can enjoy.  Bottom line – we need to be careful about what kinds of gifts we accept into our parks – even if they do come from Royalty!


May 16th  – I ventured down to the lagoon to check on the swans.  I spotted three swimming in the lagoon immediately.  I knew something was wrong!  When I approached Tristan and Thea’s nest I let out a cry of despair!  I felt so sad.  I didn’t hold out any hope for Marika and Bijan’s nest either.  I want to know what happened to the eggs – there are no traces of the shells.  I really hope that the swans don’t feel grief!


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Returning to the Blog

This blog was originally created for my Creative Writing class last term.  I never returned to it after the term was over – I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with it.  Blogging had always intrigued me, but the whole experience of posting my assignments for the class and meeting the vigorous writing deadlines each week had worn me out.

Sufficient time has passed now and as I look back over the work I did, I am feeling proud of myself. I embraced the changes and met the challenges for this class.  Will I keep writing? Maybe.  Right now, I’m exploring other avenues.  I’m drawing, painting and taking classes in digital media. My first love is still photography and I plan to use this blog to share images as well.   My husband and I have recently moved into the west end in Vancouver and there is so much exploring to do! How do you find time to embrace it all?

One thing I did do when we got to Vancouver was find a place to continue taking belly dance classes.  I’ve never been an outstanding dancer, but you don’t have to be “a star” to love it.   I was missing dancing last term and when one of our poetry assignments was to pattern a poem after another famous poem I decided to write about it.   My first draft was personal and did not quite meet the assignment requirements.  However, after several revisions it came out not too bad!  I am sharing this for my dance friends!

  Dance Class

Feel the undulations of your soul

as you learn the ancient art of the dance.

Unveil your sensual side.

Feel the galloping of your heart

that sends the blood rushing to your cheeks.

Don’t turn away. Feel the beat of the drum.

Feel the sweat that glistens on your forehead and then

slowly finds it’s way to your breasts. Feel the heat

that ripples from your belly to your head.

Feel the weight of the coins on your belt.

Feel the fringe at your feet. Feel the tingle on your skin.

Feel the beat of the drum.

Listen to the Oud. Listen to the flute

and to the zills that reflect the sparkle in your eyes.

Feel the beat of the drum.

Feel the buzz in the room lay down as heavy velvet curtains

part revealing a dancer, sparkling in a dream.

And you feel the beat of the drum.

(patterned from Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon)









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Week Eleven Blog Assignment – Revision


Readings from Mooring Against the Tide this week helped me understand that revision is an integral part of our everyday life whether we are conscious of it or not. I often edit my photographs more than once by cropping, changing the contrast or saturation and experimenting with different filters. I always feel excited to see how tweaking and playing with a good photograph will make it even better. I have to approach my writing revisions the same way and without fear.

Our lecture material for the class, Revising a Poem: Tricks of the Trade and the advice from the text that discusses processes for revision is reference material that I will follow closely.  Rather than go through the revision of a poem line by line and then trying to decide what to fix, I will first look to see if my images are strong and fresh. Then I will go back through it and look for sound and internal rhyme and lastly I will do my best to add some gorgeous metaphors and similes. Gary Thompson’s contribution Moonsheen and Porchlight: Revision as Illumination was a very interesting read. He states, “Like all worthwhile knowledge, revision is an art we must teach ourselves, but we can learn this art more quickly if we are honestly open to the comments and observations of other poets, readers and editors. We must make our selves vulnerable.” I have felt very vulnerable at times during this class, but I have learned so much and I have really accomplished a lot. I will also continue blogging – something that I never thought I would ever do!

This week we were to pick out one poem from The Best Canadian Poetry assigned readings that stunned us. On the first read through, I really didn’t feel moved by many of them and I was worried I wasn’t going to find one that grabbed me. I was intrigued with Bear Room by Medrie Purdum. I have actually been the person caught off guard on more than one occasion entering a home where I was “stopped cold” by the frightful amount of taxidermy that lined the rumpus room walls. I liked the way the poem ended too. “ I know,” I said, and my voice wigged out/like any living thing’s caught by the scruff.”

Next, I took a closer look at Academic Liaison by Ingrid Ruthig. It caught my attention on the first glance through because of the racy edge it had to it. It is full of playful metaphors coupling the rules and terminology used in mathematics with sexual desire. During the writing of this blog, I was surfing the Internet for clips and quotes that I might use to wrap things up and was surprised to find an audio track for this poem. Listening to how and where Ingrid Ruthig places emphasis on the words and the tone she uses in the reading actually helped me to understand that the poem better.  It was really about a female student who falls for teacher whose methods are misplaced. “ When it becomes the way a young man bears weight/into the classroom and angles it on the desk before her, /it seems even youth can worship weathered physics/and desire is a test she might work her way through.” I thought this was clever piece of writing that touched on a subject that is very relevant and of a sensitive nature. Here is the link, if anyone would like to listen to it.

What’s on my agenda this winter?  I have many friends who are published poets and over the years I have shown my support to them  by purchasing their publications.  My bookshelf back in Saskatoon is lined with their colourful bindings — all untouched. I will be bringing them back with me after Christmas and diving into them with great enthusiasm.  Their hard work and creativity deserves to be celebrated.

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