December’s gifts.
Custom, ceremony, celebration & consecration,
come to us wrapped up, not in tissue and ribbons, but in cherished memories. 
Memories that delighted us as children,
we are now intent on preserving for our own.
I used to think that the reason I love decking the halls, was so I could create happy memories for my children.
But after all these years, I have come to realize that it brings me just as much joy.
One of the most important aspects of the holiday season are rituals.
Rituals that families do, year after year.
We bring out the old glass, polish up the silver,
sing the old songs, and say the same prayers.
We all need the reassuring that our treasured rituals bring.
As the season of Believing starts to wind down, 
I remind myself to live it to the fullest before it passes.
I breathe the cold air, drink the drink, taste the fruit & resign myself to the influences of each and every one.
 After all the toys, tinsel, carols, cards and chaos,
when I pack up our beloved holiday traditions,
there are evenings of quiet reflection and peace.
I will carefully wrap these family traditions in tissue,
And hang on to the comfort & joy.
I hope you are loving every minute of your holiday season!
xo Lisa
Photos: Lisa Porter


Naturally Weathered

My old Kentucky home.
Home to the worlds finest burley, birthplace to premium bourbon and thoroughbreds.
A place where men carry on about the soil, about farming, being married to the land and being buried in it.

Photos: Lisa Porter


It's been a year for all of us in so many different ways.
We have laughed & we have cried.
We continue to tell our stories & to learn many new ones.
We celebrate each other's victory
& we are there during a loss.
We talk to everyone who will listen
& sometimes we have nothing to say.
We have made great strides & we have fallen a bit behind. 
We continue to inspire & support each other day after day.
For that, we should celebrate.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas!
xo Lisa
Lisa Porter


Taking a break...
from dashing through the snow...
and making spirits bright...
to wish you
Merry Christmas!
May your
faith, family, and friends
always bring you
peace, love, and joy.
XO Lisa


A visit with Claude Simard

December began with a delightful note from
 Claude Simard.
Seems this charming Canadian artist and I share a mutual love of painting & gardening. 
Claude Simard's paintings are a beautiful celebration of his love of life through the medium of acrylics on canvas and watercolor sketches.
His lush floral garden scenes & still life explode with light and color but behind each canvas is the meticulous research and discipline of a master artist.
"In my garden, there are peonies from my father and those of my aunt Theresa. There is blue flag iris that I gathered for my mother in the fields at Grenier." Claude Simard
His colors are in the finest traditions of the French Impressionists.
  The shapes dancing around his paintings give the feeling of spontaneity and excitement.
They carry his own unique radiant touch.
" Of course, the paintings are filled with the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the taste of red wine, the memory of St-Rémy-de-Provence, of Paris."
 Claude Simard
After having a look at his fine gallery of work, I sent a note to Claude inviting him to stop by for a visit so that we could learn more about the life & the artistry of this charming & talented man.
 He politely obliged.
What subject matter seems to inspire you most?
"The garden... Nature... Touching the soil with my hands and feeling the warmth in spring...
Well, I see you are an avid gardener, might your idea of the perfect day include some time with your hands in the dirt?
Gardening is another form of painting, isn't it? You make up a picture from the elements you put together. Playing God!
I know of few things that can help cure your sorrows better than getting your hands into the garden soil.
My painting really began in my garden and moved elsewhere from there.
Even when Claude is doing watercolor sketches of Italy or the hills of Tuscany where he finds peace in the early spring, he is
 "Painting the idea of a garden I left behind."
I see that you gain much inspiration from traveling about. Do particular locations inspire you?
Tuscany and Provence (St-Rémy-de-Provence) are the places where I cannot stop sketching. We travel with understanding friends.
All I need is a box of watercolor and a good piece of paper. Walking around St-Rémy, you feel as though Vincent is checking over your shoulder and sometimes you can almost hear him passing comments about the blue one should use for the sky...

To my well being, I would say Good health. Love. Peace. And quiet too. Jean-Cébastien Bach Sonatas played by Yo-Yo Ma. Clean water flowing down the river. Pâté de foie gras and red wine. No champagne! A fresh patch of green grass where one can sit and think about Claude Monet or about a British racing green sports car zipping down a country lane...
To my success: Success is something I never looked for. It came as a gift from a love of life and nature maybe. From work and love of work. From one essential ingredient: perseverance.
I noticed your darling granddaughters are following in their grandfather's footsteps. 
Nothing is more fun than the kids when they invade the studio.

What about your family, tell us a bit about them.
My daughters. My darling daughters. Both in early thirties. Both married with 2 children.
Lucky them!
My life is my work and it is my family as you gathered yourself.
 Nothing is more relaxing than a cup of tea with Huguette, my dear wife, when she comes and sits in the studio for a few sips.
Here with grandson, Thomas.
I asked Claude to use three words to describe himself.  He sent me this photo with a short note saying,
"A picture is worth a thousand words, right?"
Claude Simard, you are a master painter & gardener, you are a fine husband, father, and grandfather. Indeed a very fortunate man. 
Your family knows it & now so do we!
Thank you so much for spending time with us this holiday season.
  Merry Christmas,
Enjoy this fascinating video of the artist at work. 

Visit the website of Claude A. Simard to learn more about his art, gardening, travels, and accomplishments some of which include:

Graduated Ontario College of Art (Design) 1966 (AOCA)
Apprenticeship British Motor Corporation, England, 1965
Elected Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1981 (RCA)
Founding member of Quebec Graphic Designers Society
and author of Society’s Code of Ethics
Professor Laval University, 1984-2001
Paintings on permanent exhibition in galleries across Canada
All photos, video, compliments of Claude A. Simard, AOCA,RCA