Knots. That’s what her stomach turned to when it rained. The flies did the same. Despite the lazy summer sounds of chirping birds and geared down transports passing through town, there were more flies than usual. They were drawn to the subtle stink now. Bred in the musty folds of corrugated ick. A week ago impotent as storage containers, boxes melted as lifted from the sediment. The flies had multiplied. Un-trusted dust settled in gardens. Nine or more filled industrial-sized garbage containers stood testament to the devastation and travesty of a flood. The flies were a horrid reminder.

How does one blame rain? The night before it had been springtime refreshment. Steady and seasonal the drops droned toward morning. The rinse that makes laundry lines welcome the folder. Yet the rain gauges held the hint. Four to five inches—not normal. Record-setting increments of that scale stir the conversation of any Farmer’s Almanac follower. But, the coffee shop was not a buzz that morning. Rather the simple street corner was creating its own landing point.

That morning the word “river” sat on her soul.

“Go to the river?” she asked Him? “Sit by the river?” “Check out the river?” “Hear You at the river?” “Meet You by the river?”

Dulled by her arrogance she soon forgot and returned to routine. Even hearing the frantic of the waterlogged reporter that shared office space had done nothing but remind her of how she loved this little town. We will take anything for excitement, she mused.

At 10:45 am routine was broken. Two able bodied fireman clad men invaded her space. Township letterhead notices and warnings of level three danger in a level two zone caught her like side bars of bad news at the doctor’s office. Jaded cynicism mocked them internally. Yet, assuredly she nodded that she could be out by noon.

The puddles were to be expected nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Gut reflexes to pass on due diligence of officialdom seem appropriate. The evacuation warnings were reiterated.

Back window peek. Like an omen from Dr Who’s “Blink,” the water had advanced across the yard as silent as a weeping angel. Water, just water. Instinct kicked in as product and floor footprint items were raised to table height. 10:00 am, could the day be redeemed by moving the work to home? Blink. Move the car. No, move the car further. Higher ground was a block and a half away.

Returning to pack up meant wading in chilly ankle deep puddles. Not the puddles of playful galoshes, not the jump and splash spring time teasers. This was the dark of dread, of urgency. Firetrucks stood guard at the corner. Reflective rain gear seemed out of order for such a sunny morning. Was there a drizzle yet? It mattered not the capri were soaked to the knee. Nervous internal laughter arose at the thought of her aptly picked flood pants for the day. Two more trips filled the trunk. Awkward phone conversations updated the client of the day and the redirection of plans.

“Yes, I can meet you at the coffee shop.”

“Yes, I can be there in minutes.”

“Yes, I am aware there is no parking.”

“Yes, I am ok.”

“No, there is nothing you can do to help.”

And so the stench started. Flow versus sump pump. Dirty, dark, mud mingled, the mirk of dank algae invaded our corner with the speed they had predicted. The chatter of perplexed onlookers surveyed the approach with worry and dumbfounded denial.

“No, there was nothing you can do to help.”

Freezers floated. Sumps pumped. Primitive watercraft explored. Even a jet ski took a spin off its moorings. And why, not? The power of water, it had seeped and spilt into the community’s lives beyond anyone’s control.

Nothing but the waiting, yet oddly the flood receded as quickly as it began.

“There’s got to be a morning afterIf we can hold on through the night...” it had been an iconic song of the 1970s, it invaded her personal head space without warning.

“Oh, can’t you see the morning after?It's waiting right outside the stormWhy don't we cross the bridge togetherAnd find a place that's safe and warm?” It became and earworm. (The Morning After, lyrics written for the Poseidon Adventure by Maureen McGovern)

The muck clean up had begun. Though there was no basement for the water to permeate at 24 Wood St. None, zero, zilch. Water and stink it had drenched entered every crevice for a block’s radius. She had never been so thankful.


Though a fish farmer’s daughter, the reek of aquaculture re-entered the nostrils with new memories. Ones that call out the work clothes but ones that would be mingled with deep thankfulness while tethered to the heart-wrenching loss.

“River.” The alerts of one-word prompts had more attention.

©Donna Hirtle
July 7, 2017
Short unfinished thoughts regarding the Drayton flood of June 23, 2017


Zut Alors {to my French savvy—sorry, the A-Z theme was working for me here}

Zut Alors
Creative Block is a Beast

Zut alors, creative bock is a beast.
Yodeling ideas is a burn out.
eXactly. Experimental flops about wanting.
White space on canvas, paper, sketchbook, screen—blank.
Remember when? Rumination rewinds and reveals random nothingness.
Quit it—cue the violins or get over yourself!
“Pump it up” and push on.
Open the door and start again.
Never-mind the over the top, just ignore the vastness.
Make way for two things.
Limitation produces a need; let go and whittle.
Knead the moment whether in sunshine or fog.
Jostle the fuzzy bits.
Ideas come from both solitude and frenzy.
Hazard a mark, and let it take hold.
Gentle or guttural, stake it.
Focus and find movement a and stir or find substantial statuesque.
Edit the distractions.
Determine to repeat.
Could it be a series? {Count on work ahead.}
Bring out the brush bold. The brazen has begun. Beckon brave.
Argue the arty angst. Adventure awaits.

© Donna Hirtle

A Little Practice

Not big on resolutions, on Jan 15, 2016, I made a goal. A lazy goal. To doodle 100 faces. Not to spend much time on them, just practice a little. Lazy, because I didn't say when I would finish this goal. Lazy, because I did not have a real purpose with my goal. Just wanted to change the way I looked at people and give my self a little practice.

Pathetic really. I should have gotten a gym membership and failed at that just as easily. However, having made a goal as low as the bar was set...has made me try, just a little to, huh, look at people differently and give my self a little practice. Easily argued that I could use a LOT more practice. But there has been a fun spin off.

Creative Jump Start for a New Year?

Pen and pencils and preferred colour tools at the ready. On a sketch book page, doodle and pen quick responses to the following...don't take this too seriously. { Not intended as a gallery piece, just a chance to look at your own arty in a fresh way. }

What goals do I have for being better at this arty thing? Too lofty a question, but, write down the question and draw three large blazing arrows popping out. Leave blanks to fill in later if need be.

Where do I want to be stretched? Draw a impromptu dachshund and pen the answer in the body.

What is my favourite colour? Splash some down on the page. Make it BIG, wet, loose! Why is it a favourite colour? Write it down beside the splash. Is there anything that annoys me about this colour? Odd question regarding a favourite, but does it fade, does it “granulate,” does it become too saturated to fast? Write those features down.

What is my second favourite colour? Draw or paint a bit with that colour in a purposeful way on the page. If it reminds you of an ocean, try throwing some waves down in a pattern. Blue for clouds, draw them fluffy in the negative. Where do I want to see more of this hue! Any annoying features with this chroma? If so, write those features down.

Least favourite colour? Now introduce the dreaded colour into the favourites...even if just a simple dashed line, especially if wet and it will run! Now use that detestable colour to create something beautiful. Maybe some lace or foliage. A zentangle, a pattern, perhaps fur?

Sketching and drawing. Draw a little doodle of something in front of myself right now. Write down the answers or prompts to the following questions. Do I have a sketch book or even stack of paper? Where do I keep it/them? Am I willing to move it to another spot for a time? What tools will I put beside the sketchbook? When will I take 5-10 minutes to use it? What is a subject that I could tolerate doing a mini series of?

Draw a rectangle and fill in the names of two artists who inspire me in a grand way.
Why do they inspire me? Spin off the answers regarding—am I willing to read about them, get a calendar of their work, find where are they in the library? Maybe it is time to look up if any one made a posted a YouTube movie about their work. Is there a title of a book or movie that I want to remind myself to research their work more closely? Write it down.

Write down this question: “No matter how small I find my world to be, would I consider showing the world what I do?” Draw a two boxes, and label “yes” and another “no.” Place a check mark in one of them and write why! If yes was checked consider stating where a place to show the work might be. How many pieces? When? Who might I tell? Write it all down.

Go back to the first three arrows and their blanks. Can I fill any of the blanks in?

Regardless of what the doodle page has come up with see if anything can be added to make it a quick composition. Is there a neutral colour that can be sprayed all over the background? Are there lines or bubbles that can be connected? Large numbers or roman numerals might help to tell the story?

Sign it and date it in the bottom right hand corner!

Flossing Together 50 Years

Flossing Together 50 Years

It's a work in, “procrastination project!” That said, the caricature piece makes me giggle internally at the foibles of growing old with the old man I now follow up the stairs every evening. The older I get the easier has been to take myself less seriously. Making a point of fobbing off more stuff to the thrift shop so there is less for my kids to throw in the purge dumpster they might need when we are gone. My mantra has become “None of us get out of this alive!” That said healthy gums to the end might save me in dentures?

Prayer for a Sunday morning

Dear Father,

In our Canadian experience, there has always been more than enough. Yet daily we are at war with our thoughts and our culture that screams at us that we are not.

We aren't skinny, fit, healthy enough. We aren't endowed enough, physically, mentally, financially, nor materially... We get tripped in the lust for more — coveting our neighbour's stuff. Ever tempted to enter gossip or slander in the sour grapes of our feelings of inadequacies.

Idols rise up. Lust and hate tickles us.

Lord, in the midst of this Your death and resurrection call out “Enough!” to our foolishness.

At Your death, You said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). In Your resurrection appearances, You said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). In earliest of churches (Acts), the pouring out began.

Jesus, God, Holy Spirit, we are here again for a  top up. As You continue to pour into our lives we seek to pour back through worship. We get that worship isn't just one hour of our busy lives. But, take this time we are coming into Your presence formally and continue to change us, especially our understanding of “enough.”


I scrawled this as a scrappy journal entry as a collection of thoughts and chat for a “call to worship” role. Not often do I pen a prayer, {and never type nor post one}. I had done a quick back of the bible, concordance check for the word “enough” because the word flapped on my mental clothes’ line so vigorously.  Nothing.

Minutes after the blurt to paper, a post showed up referencing John 14:8 “Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” God laughter is always the best laughter.

Donna Hirtle

p.s. So why insert a seemingly unrelated prayer on a web page? Whether it be a drawing, a painting, a fabric project...a’s all connected. One expression of worship walk walking has no big difference or disconnect. If it offends you, just ignore me. If it helps you, hey cool, God is a work.

Bees and Bears

Sentimentality or practicality? Our little town is hosting its annual agricultural fair. This year’s theme—Bees and Bears. Catchy. For what ever reason submitting a category into the fair book seems like a rural thing to do when one doesn’t have a tractor to pull, car to derby, quilt to show case, nor jams to judge. So Studio Factor sponsors opportunities for young children and old farts the chance to to create something with the teaser of a few bucks, perhaps towards their latest techno wish list. For the old farts, is it bragging rights?

It is very quaint isn’t it? Alas, part of Mayberry memories are gone (Andy Griffith, rest in peace), however, our longing for a simpler time renewed as the fair perpetuates. Don’t get me wrong. I love the fair. The dusty dawdle of neighbourhood chin-wagging, while checking out all things handy work and crafty, well, it’s lovely. But, is it pragmatic?

Farm stock and arty is a weird fit. Art isn’t always about what to hang on the wall. Personally, I like to think of it as “Problem Solving 101.” Wrestling with an idea until it is either worthy of showing someone, or ready for the trash, because another idea needs to come forward. Painting bees rather than propagating them. {Yay, hubby, for keeping our larder sweet.} It’s odd.

Bears, in this part of Ontario, well that is just goofy. That said, bring out the your picnic basket, August the 9. For that is the day, the Teddy Bears are going to have their picnic! Guess who’s helping with that event?

I wrestle.