Friday, 28 October 2016

Ten, Nine, Eight,...

Magic Pumpkins, acrylic, 16" x 20"

Blog 44

After I took a break in my walk down memory lane for the last couple of weeks when I wrote to you about the last two painting trips of this year, I will now return to the events of October 1995. For those of you who are new to my blog, I decided to dedicate most of this year's blogs to my experiences and impressions of Canada, the country which would be my new home after our move from Germany at the end of April 1995. I finished my last blog about my first year in Canada with the sale of our house. Please see the Blog of September 16, if you would like to go back to my story.

Just ten days before our wedding, our offer for a house was accepted. We finally had our own place to build our future together. I had a return ticket to Germany for October 20 and would therefore be able to arrange for our furniture to be shipped in time for the closing date. However, first we had more excitement awaiting us.

As I did not know anyone but Ingo's family here in Canada, we decided to have a wedding barbecue bash instead of the traditional bridal shower and bachelor party. We had a very nice evening with Ingo's friends and siblings at the Peters family home. As we did not have a lot of money, we had prepared everything ourselves with the generous help from Ingo's parents, who did not only offer us their house for the party but also bought the alcohol. Ingo's mother even baked a cake – actually twice, as the first one fell victim to a hunger attack the evening before.

I had not felt like celebrating at all after I had finally received a letter from one of my best friends. I had been uneasy for weeks as she has always been very thoughtful and communicative. We regularly exchanged letters even when I was still in Germany. However, I had not heard from her since our last meeting, not even for my birthday. She had had cancer a couple of times before and it had come back. I knew she was a fighter with a strong will to survive, but for the first time I had registered a bit or resignation in her words which made me very upset. I wished I could do more for her but all I could do is write a letter.

Just hours later, I received news that my mother had trouble with her sight. She had another appointment at the university hospital just two days before their flight due to the fact that her eye specialist had found out that she had lost almost all of her sight in one of her eyes. I was very worried that she would not be allowed to fly. However, there was nothing I could do but wait for her call after the appointment.

Due to the excitement in my own life, I did not really realize at that point that this would be a big problem in the years to come. It does not matter where I am, I always miss part of the people in my life, and often feel like an outsider when something happens to my family and friends in Germany. Even though I put a lot of effort into keeping the relationships alive, and while I am quite successful at it, I miss not being able to be a bigger part of their lives, both in happy and in difficult situations.

On our first Thanksgiving in Canada Ingo went to work to be able to take only one day of vacation for our wedding. It was a grey day, and the city seemed deserted. After work, Ingo and I explored the neighbourhood of our new house. It was really exciting: lots of parks, a path along the river that lead all the way to downtown, and even some tennis courts. We enjoyed walking through the forest. The smell of fall was in the air: it smelled of firewood and decaying leaves.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a feast of turkey breast in cider mustard sauce with apple pieces, a recipe we had found in one of the local grocery stores.

I was not aware that Thanksgiving was quite the family festivity in Canada with large turkey or ham dinners for the whole family. The three day weekend encourages Canadians to go one more time to the cottage and to enjoy the fall colours while hiking. The German “Erntedankfest” is only celebrated in the Christian churches, in general on the first Sunday of October. Usually the churches are decorated with produce to give thanks for a good harvest. In some areas, religious processions or parades are common. However, for most Germans it is of no importance.

In my next blog, I finally reach the highlight of 1995, our wedding in Mississauga in mid October. I hope you enjoyed my blog and are looking forward to finding out more about the wedding day, and whether or not my parents were able to attend our wedding.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Lake Clear - Plein Air Ensemble Fall Painting Trip 2016, Part III

Sunday, October 2, 2016

As expected, we woke up to rain. It was more mist than rain drops, and it had stopped after breakfast. Even the fog started to lift. Hélène and I decided to stay close to the cottage, so we went to the swamp next to the entrance. Hélène wanted to paint a second painting of the starting tree, and I decided to paint the beautiful red wine leaves in front of the barn.

Unfortunately, the rain started again and continued on and off. While I was pretty dry under my umbrella, Hélène was more exposed under hers and went back to the cottage while I continued painting until 2 p.m. When I arrived at the cottage, I was starving. I never feel hungry when I am painting because I am so focused on my image, but as soon as I stop, I am usually famished.

For the rest of the afternoon, I prepared my Tuesday drawing class, read, wrote parts of my newsletter, and took a quick nap.

Tonight, everyone was so tired that we skipped the Trivial Pursuit art game we had brought for the evening entertainment. Instead, we had lively discussions which was nice to see. As an organizer, it is always very rewarding if the people get along well. That makes our work really easy.

Monday, October 3, 2016

We were quite disappointed this morning when we woke up to rain. The weather forecast had promised sun with the occasional shower, but not mist and fog.

Hélène and I decided to drive around a little bit hoping that it would clear up. Even though the sun did not appear, at least the drizzle stopped. We drove towards Cormac, then turned towards Foymount. Unfortunately, the mountainous area was totally enclosed by fog. We returned to Cormac, and we continued through marshes and fields all the way up to Killaloe.

At the end, we went back to another swamp on Cormac Road, where the colourful fall trees and a view of the mountains caught our attention. We had an early lunch. Afterwards, we spent the rest of the day at the swamp. When we started painting, there was a complete cloud cover, then a couple of patches of blue sky and a little bit of sun had peeked through, but disappeared quickly again. However, by 2:30 p.m. the sun came out at full strength. Temperatures climbed to about 20 degrees. It was hot in the sun. I was glad that I had an umbrella. Unfortunately, painting the scene got really tricky as the bright sunlight changed the colours of the scene. I continued to compare colours with the areas of my painting that I had already worked on. There is still some work to be done but I am quite happy with what I painted. I found it quite hard to capture the foliage successfully. As we only had less than an hour left before we had to leave for the cottage, I just started a small painting of a tree stem overgrown by a red wine.

When we finally returned to the cottage, we were amazed how calm Lake Clear was. Neither this year nor last year had we ever seen the lake that quiet. There was absolutely no wind. What a beautiful sight! I took pictures not only of the big mountain on the other side of the lake, but also of a grey heron, and later of the beautiful sunset that tinted the water light pink and blue.

Tonight was our last evening together. Everyone put up some of their paintings from the weekend. We had the vote for the most creatively decorated name tag, and lots of discussions about the paintings and the beautiful spots everyone had discovered during the trip.

Hélène and I are extremely happy that everyone had a good time. We are looking forward to the spring trip at the end of March to Orford in Quebec. If you would like more information about the Plein Air Ensemble please contact me at

I hope you enjoyed my travelogue. If you would like more information about the Opeongo Mountain Resort please go to the website: Katia and Niels Klauk offer a very welcoming atmosphere.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Lake Clear - Plein Air Ensemble Fall Painting Trip 2016, Part II

Blog 42

Friday, September 30, 2016

Today, Hélène and I returned to Cormac Road where we painted the marsh. At first, it was nice and sunny, but later it got quite chilly when the clouds rolled in. I was struggling with the changing light conditions again, but managed to solve most of my problems by adjusting the colour temperature.

In the afternoon, we had to drive to the centre of Eganville to buy the wine for the Happy Hours, as well as some flowers and gourds for the still life we will set up tomorrow for everyone who would like to stay indoors for painting.

On our way back, we made a detour to Manning Road that was pointed out by our resort owners as having beautiful fall colours. We were not disappointed. On both sides of the road were some beautiful swamp areas, a couple of huge interesting rocks and beautiful trees in full fall colours. On our way out, we also saw a big flock of wild turkeys. This might become tomorrow's painting location. It is only minutes from the cottage and offers many picturesque spots.

We have figured out that it is best to stay in one spot or some spots that are close to each other to avoid the travelling time which cuts down the painting time.

In the evening, we were relieved that everyone made it safely to the resort. It was nice to welcome some of the older members back who had not been able to make it to any of the trips for the last couple of years, as well as one newcomer.

We had a good time catching up with our painting friends during Happy Hour and the following delicious dinner prepared for us by the resort owner and staff.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The weather was treating us to another good day. Hélène and I went to Manning Road where we had discovered the beautiful, but very smelly swamp yesterday. Hélène picked the side of the road where the smell was not so bad. However, the beautiful red trees that captured my interest were on the other side of the road, so I set up there. After a while, the smell made me cough, but I got lucky when the wind set in and drastically reduced the smell of decaying plants.

I was struggling with the overload of sensations, but managed to pull things together at the end. I am not completely satisfied, but curious how I will feel about the painting in a couple of days.

For the afternoon, we picked a huge rock as our subject. Having had to concentrate so hard in the morning, I decided to be a little adventurous with my colours. I used quite a lot of purple and pink for the rock and was doing quite well until I almost lost the impact of the rock in my painting. Luckily, I was able to recover my rock. So far, I consider this my best painting of the trip.

We had set ourselves a time to drive back to the resort to be able to prepare the plates for the Happy Hour and get changed without rushing. However, we had a hard time to stop painting because we were so close to the finish line. At the end, we were already late when we had packed everything into the car, only to discover that we could not find the car keys, or the spare. After looking around everywhere in the vicinity, I found them between the driver seat and the console. Despite this, we managed to have everything ready just in time. However, there were no minutes to spare.

We were happy to welcome the last two participants of our group that had to come a day late. We were treated to some wonderful music by our very talented musicians during the Happy Hour which we feel very fortunate to enjoy.

Tonight, Mette was nice enough to tell us about her adventure into the fashion world. She gave us a glimpse into how she has created beautiful clothes and home decor articles based on some of her flower paintings. It was fascinating – even the gentlemen of the group stayed for the talk. If you would like to see for yourself please go to

To follow me on our final two days of the Plein Air Ensemble trip, please return next Friday for the final part of the travelogue.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Lake Clear - Fall Plein Air Painting Trip 2016, Part I

 Blog 41

Following is the first part of my travelogue of the fall painting trip of the Plein Air Ensemble:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hélène and I are on our way to Lake Clear in Eganville for the Plein Air Ensemble fall painting trip. As usual, we go up a day early to get everything organized. While we prepared as much as possible before the trip, we still have to get maps, and buy wine for the Happy Hours of the week.

The weather is great. The sun is shining and temperatures are supposed to go up to 17 degrees. At first, we got through nicely on the highway. Hélène and I did not see each other over the summer, so we had lots to chat about. This makes time just fly by. However, now we have been stuck for about an hour at a construction site on the 17, just before before the exit to Calabogie. What a waste of precious painting time!


When we finally made it to Eganville, we went to the tourist information, then to the 4th chute near the Bonnechere Caves. On our way, we saw two deer looking at us from the side of the road. Unfortunately, I was not fast enough to capture their image with my camera.

After a picnic, we hiked along the Bonnechere River which was extremely low. There were lot of picturesque spots to paint, but we would need a whole day to make it worth dragging all of our equipment into the woods.

Instead we went back to the lakeside and set up there for the afternoon. Hélène painted the waterfall, and I was fascinated by the deep blue water of the lake and the fall colours in the back. However, I started to struggle when the sunny sky was pushed out by the clouds and the colours changed dramatically. When I decide to incorporate the huge flocks of Canada Geese that were swimming in the lake, I got really frustrated. In the end, I wiped the birds out of my painting again. I was still not happy with the painting when we had to pack up. I will give it a couple of days before I will look at it again. Hopefully, I will feel better about it at that point. If not, I have to figure out what exactly is bothering me.

On our way to the Opeongo Mountain Resort, Hélène and I were guided by the GPS through the woods following Corrigan Road. Fortunately, we ended up at Cormac Road where we saw two beautiful marshes.

We had just enough time to pick a cottage and unpack before we went back into town to meet our friends Sharon and Bill for dinner in “The Granary”. As we knew from the last time how big the portions were, Hélène and I shared a schnitzel in mushroom sauce. This way, there was enough room for the restaurant's delicious desserts. Each of the different desserts looked fantastic. If you are in the Eganville area, I can highly recommend the restaurant for its very good food. Just be advised that one plate easily serves two.

As Sharon and Bill are taking part in the Madawaska Valley Studio Tour this weekend, we enjoyed a special preview of their beautiful artworks displayed for the tour.

On our way back to the resort, through the dark landscape, both Hélène and I agreed that we would not like to live so far out in the country. Driving through the dark woods was putting me on edge. I was not surprised that we saw more deer at the side of the road and a fox crossing the road right in front of us.

Back at our cozy cottage, it is now time to turn in for the night to be well rested for tomorrow's adventures.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my travelogue and will join me again next Friday for the continuation.