Sunday, August 31, 2014

HDMGG - August 31

I missed a garden update two weeks ago. Things are a little messy. Apparently fun has trumped pruning the tomatoes. And, like all local tomatoes, the plants have been slow to fruit and have a blight. A hailstorm and some severe wind on another day also beat them up.

In spite of neglect and poor condition, the cherry tomatoes are now ripe and the Roma are colouring up.

The peppers have stayed upright throughout.

After a slow start to fruit set both varieties are now covered in peppers.

The basil went sideways during the hail and has never stood up again.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Something has changed

A few weeks ago a close friend said "Your work is going to change." She meant that it would change after my encounter with cancer. I facetiously asked her if she thought that I would suddenly start using colour instead of my usual greys and blacks. She replied "I don't know but something will change."

She's right. But not in the way I think she meant. My perspective on time is different now and that is mostly evident in how I am thinking about spending my creative time after my recovery. A number of incidents have triggered the insights which are starting to trickle into my head. 

When we did our Oh, Canada road trip we ended up at the Aberdeen Cultural Centre in Moncton where one of the galleries was located. We were too early for the gallery so we wandered and met an artist who told us about a fibre artist who had a studio on the third floor. We hustled upstairs where we met Marjolaine Bourgeois.  With her permission I have reproduced images of two of the works which were on her wall. 

À bras, 2014, Marjolaine Bourgeois

Les pieds dans l'eau, 2014, Marjolaine Bourgeois

You may or may not like her work but that wasn't what made the impression on me. We had a lovely conversation about why she does what she does and what sacrifices she has made to be a full-time artist. It made me think.

Then I stumbled on the artist interviews at World of Threads. Go and look even if you think you have no interest in fibre art. This is not your grandmother's fibre. Think sculpture and paint and installation. I read interview after interview after interview. And all I could think about was how precious time must be to all of the artists. A few months ago I would have been looking at materials and techniques and subject matter and design.

My friend was right - my work will change because I have a different perception of the value of time and I will use it differently. Nothing will be the same.

Friday, August 29, 2014

It began with the bear

If you attempted to comment on yesterday's post, please try again. I mistakenly left the settings so that it was impossible to make anonymous comments.

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the merits of several approaches to making art, specifically my art. My highly personal analysis and categorization is as follows:

1. Go where the winds take you. In these instances I become enamoured of a new technique or get accosted by the idea of creating a piece for a themed show.

2. Make your point, without regard for how others will receive the result. It is difficult to describe but, for me, this approach incorporates the idea that a viewer should be able to tell that there is a message, even if they can't figure out what it is. Also inherent in my thoughts about this approach is that the work not necessarily be attractive to viewers. In this scenario the message and my satisfaction trump everything else.

3. Make something attractive and make your point in a way that is really obvious to the viewers. This is a sensible option and one I see chosen a lot but it holds no appeal for me. And it sounds difficult - it means you have to excel at two things. It seems to me that most people fail at one or the other. Perhaps that explains my lack of interest.

4. Make something nice, that you like and which will also appeal to viewers, just because you can and the world needs more nice things. I have consistently rejected this way of working. In my mind, this approach is often linked to #1.

There are, of course, other options and other ways of stating them but that's what rolls around in my head on a daily basis.

My thoughts on these approaches shifted while I was away. The Oh, Canada show included lots of works that made me wonder what the curator was thinking and which even made me angry because they seemed a waste of gallery space. But there were several pieces that were attractive to me. I wanted to be in their presence because of the way they looked and made me feel. I was certain that the creators had a very definite point of view and that there was intellect and emotion behind the work but I could not discern the messages even after several visits with the artwork.

It began with the bear. When writing about the Oh, Canada show on this and the SAQA Atlantic blog I chose to use an image of a life size grizzly bear covered in handmade felt roses. I initially made that choice because it was the only piece of fibre art in the show. But as I continued to look at the images they grew on me.

Now I think the bear has taught me something or helped me decide which path is for me. We didn't get to see the piece, entitled Widow by Janice Wright Cheney from Fredericton, until our final stop at the Owens Art Gallery at Mount Allison University. It is the first thing you see when you walk into the building. It was interesting for me to view and record the reaction of one of my friends when we entered the gallery. Her face lit up, she ran to the bear and immediately posed for a picture. Who wouldn't want to create that kind of reaction? There was no doubt that the attractiveness of the object sustained our interest and kept us there long enough to wonder about the meaning.

When I returned home I spent a lot of time on the artist's website and have looked at all of the pages and followed all of the links. She has a definite interest and point of view and is unafraid of creating work which viewers may find unattractive and even disturbing. The story behind the bear can be found here.

The other piece which struck all of us was also at the Owens gallery. It was Knight of Infinite Resignation by Diane Landry of Quebec City. Her website describes it as a sound installation with automation. It sat alone in a large darkened room. Each of the wheels was motorized and turned at a constant speed. On all but two of the wheels the bottles had sand which fell over the lights as the wheel turned and then fell away moments later. This extinguished and revealed the lights one by one. The sand made a sound as it moved across the surfaces of the bottles.

The effect was intriguing and mesmerizing. We all spent a lot of time in that room and returned to it again before we left the gallery. All of us agreed that we would like to live with the piece or something similar. We speculated about the meaning and the text on her site confirms that we were on the right track. As an aside, you can see that there are electrical cords on the floors. I found that sort of thing intrusive in other technology based artwork in the show but the visual and aural impact of this one overrode that distraction.

In both instances, the bear and the lights, I engaged with the art because of its form and then I stayed for the message. In the case of the Widow I could never have guessed what was at work in the artist's head while I came close with Landry's piece. I think this experience has helped me push back a resistance to 'pretty' that is inherent in my interpretation of approach #2. I see the merit in capturing the attention of the viewer for an extended period and it is the superficial appearance that accomplishes that goal. But I am also sustained in my conviction that there must be meaning, even if if it is impenetrable to the viewer.

So where does that leave me? I think most of the time I use approach #2. It feels like that's the right track for me but I will probably make a small shift toward 'attractive' in its purest sense of drawing people in.

That's a lot of deep thinking. Here's something else to chew on. What is your reaction to the bear when you learn that it was created over a commercial taxidermy form and was constructed with the aid of several people? What if you also learned that the participation of others was an important part of the meaning/message of the piece?

Thursday, August 28, 2014


This is my 100th post. To celebrate I am going to unapologetically appeal for comments to learn more about who is reading what I write (or just looking at the pictures) and where they live. So please comment with at least that information. You don't have to reveal personal info - just your interests and state or province would help me assign personalities to the stats  I get.  Feel free to add any other details or stories or questions. I will send a small gift to one commenter selected at random.  

Here's what I picked out. If you can't use it for knitting or in other fibre work you can pass it along to someone else as a gift. 

Fiesta Yarns rayon boucle (much shinier in person)
Painted Desert
I was inspired while looking at my shelves and saw lots of other little goodies. If the comments are surprisingly numerous or funny or heartwarming I will add some more gifts to the give-away pile.

Make your comment by midnight ADT, September 1. I'll make a selection the following day and get the gift in the mail before the end of the week.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Our road trip to see the Oh Canada show could not have been more perfect. There was a warm sun and clear skies, planned and unplanned adventures, unexpected meetings with wonderful artists, great snacks and wine, frivolous and serious conversations and, on top of it all, good and bad art.

These pictures of light and shadow will have to stand as a report on the trip until I am able to consolidate everything I saw and learned.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Month of fun road trip

I'm off with two friends to Prince Edward Island and then New Brunswick to see the Oh Canada show of contemporary Canadian art. The show was originally created for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and was mounted there in 2012. In June I was surprised to read that it was coming to the Maritimes this summer. That was made possible by the cooperation of four galleries, two university-based, one provincial and one private, in two provinces. It is a fantastic model and one we should support if we want other significant shows to travel east of Montreal.

I had originally arranged to travel to the show with one friend in early September. My surgery date put an end to those plans so I am delighted that we have found a way to make the trip and that we have added another person. That just means more giggles, more eyes to watch for street signs and more opinions about what we see. There will also undoubtedly be wine and ice cream.

Monday, August 25, 2014


I had a bad fall off my bike this weekend. I am bruised and battered but nothing is broken and my bike is fine as well. Here's the contusion on my upper left leg, thirty hours later.

And my right thumb, which is sprained or something.

In spite of the accident I was able to ride back to the inn where we were staying. Our afternoon and evening plans were unaffected by the incident, with the exception of the fact that I had ice (packs) with my wine while we knit that night. I also did the final stage of the Just For Fun tour yesterday.

In a strange way I am not unhappy that I fell and that it was such a dramatic event. It feels like a rehearsal for the trauma and healing that lie ahead. So far this practice session seems to be going well. Just minutes after it occurred I felt on top of things and able to deal with the discomfort and mental stress. A day later I had no sense of regret, no flashbacks and no fear of riding even though my hand was compromised. I felt resilient.


adjective \ri-ˈzil-yənt\

: able to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
: able to return to an original shape after being pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.

I think the accident will provide tangible evidence that my body, in particular, is capable of repairing itself quickly. The bruise on my leg will turn all colours and the pain will fade. My hand is already less painful while crocheting than it was a day ago. By the time my surgery date arrives I will be fine and my body will be ready to rebound again.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Memories of fun

Girls' weekend merged into the last group ride I will organize this year. The last few weeks have been all about making memories and that's just what I did.

There were delicious noodles with sausage.

Pigs and apple trees.


And more fields. (Susan TM - there's a crow on the bale.)

Mud flats (although today there was ocean).

Flank steak and gnocchi.

Then the group arrived for an easy 45 km ride. We ended with a visit to Taproot Farms (my CSA) for an all you can eat corn boil with salad and blueberry grunt.

And then there was Bert. This is his taper week before he rides the Cabot Trail over Labour Day. He chose to bring both his kids - not most of our idea of an easy ride. He's strong so that's not an issue and the kids are charming and we can all see that they are a tribute to their great father.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


I had no need for speed so I rode at the back of the group and watched the women in front of me. Until I began to participate in organized physical activity I didn't have friendships like these. They are not an accident or a by product of simple acquaintance. We chose an activity and then we chose one another. I 'know' them better than I know friends I have made in other ways. We don't need to speak to know what the others are thinking and feeling. While I ride I see joy in them, I see fatigue, I see doubt and worry and confidence and fear.

Today was tough and eventful but it was also the sort of day that brings us together. We all understand the feeling that comes with smooth pedal strokes that move you through a beautiful place and also what it feels like to hurt and to think the ride will never end. At those times we can help our friends and they, in turn, can help us.

Friday, August 22, 2014

More month of fun

This afternoon I head to Port Williams with three female friends. Two of us are staying two nights and the others are joining us for just one. We will bike and eat and drink and eat and bike and eat and drink. Then on Sunday some others will join us for the last group ride that I will organize this year. There will be more biking and more eating.

This is one of the views that we will see from our bikes.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Yet another dancing post

Last night the top six competed on So You Think You Can Dance. This week, like last, they each did a short solo in their own style. Last week, though, the solos were pre-taped and as a consequence lost the lustre that comes with a live performance. They were much better last night. In my opinion the solos give us a sense of the ultimate creativity of the dancers. So far as I know the competitors choreograph their own solos, perhaps with help from their instructors at home. Some are much stronger than others and I have a sense that that helps those dancers connect with the routines they are given on the show.

Here's Ricky's solo from last night.

One of the things I have really appreciated about SYTYCD is that it has introduced me to many new musical artists. Credits for the song/performer appear on screen in the first few seconds of each routine. That let's me follow up on iTunes or eMusic. This year the show started putting together playlists for each show on iTunes. On the first show of this season I learned about Meredith Monk and subsequently purchased some of her music. Her stuff isn't to everyone's taste so I am glad that her piece called Vow was used on the show.

I loved the song Ricky used for his solo: My Tears Are Becoming A Sea by M83. I have never heard of the artists before last night. This morning I listened to a lot of their other stuff. Their music will definitely have a place on the playlists for my indoor cycling classes this fall. Here's the band's video of another song: We Own The Sky. My students had better be prepared to do a long climb to this one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It worked

A few years ago I went through our house and removed a significant portion of what we owned. Almost all of our books left (and went to a good cause) and I sorted through housewares and clothes and art supplies and donated what I hadn't used in the past eighteen months. The proximate reason for the clean-out was that I was having the floors replaced in the house but the ultimate reason was that we were burdened by our stuff.

I organized what was left so that everything had its place and I vowed to be more mindful about what entered the house. Over the last two weeks I have swept through the house again, evaluating every object for its role in our lives. I am pleased to report, that with the exception of a few notebooks (do they breed at night?), I have been successful in holding the line on what we own. Everything is put away, there is still space and I can recall using almost every item in the last year or so. The exception is the kayaking gear but we will get back to that when I stop leading a cycling group.

I was helped by reading the book Clutterbusting by Brooks Palmer. It isn't to everyone's taste but if you want something that is more about the why than the how-to, I recommend it highly. The author also writes a blog which I haven't checked recently but did read regularly when I was in the throes of making the big changes at home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Clean slate

I have spent the last few days tidying the house in anticipation of being unable to do so for the next three months. Is there anything more distracting than winding balls of yarn, putting beads back in their numbered containers, organizing scrap fabric and sorting thread? I recommend it to everyone with a life-threatening illness who is facing surgery or some other scary treatment. Anything that takes you into the here and now is a good thing.

Along the way I found another unfinished sweater to add to the pile. The pattern wasn't with this one and I was about to put up a plea for help on Ravelry. Then I thought to check my Ravelry 'projects' file. Uncharacteristically I had noted the details of the sweater so I can print the pattern and pick up where I left off.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Valiant voyage

Ernest Shackleton

Last night my husband and I watched two of three parts of a series called Chasing Shackleton. It is a report on the re-creation of Ernest Shackleton's journey with five others in a small boat from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island and the traverse of the interior of South Georgia. [If you are unfamiliar with the story, there is a good summary here.] It was inevitable that I record and watch the series. As a child I had an interest in Antarctic exploration and read accounts of many expeditions, including Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.* The book struck a chord with me. For a couple of years, when a small piece of swampy land near our house froze over I made my brother play 'Shackleton's Valiant Voyage' almost every day. I was Shackleton, of course, and he was at times Frank Worsley and at others Dr. Macklin. I don't remember exactly what we did on the ice but it must have been important. It is one of the only childhood games I remember.

In the introductory minutes of the documentary the leader of the expedition stated that he wanted to undertake the journey to learn more about how Shackleton accomplished the amazing physical and social feat of bringing all his men to safety in the face of unbelievable hardship. How did he organize and execute their activities and what was unique about him as a leader? That question piqued my interest and is why I sat through the inevitable scenes of big seas, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements and drama about navigation and position. 

I am disappointed that the documentary, at least so far, has not provided even a hint of an answer to the question. It has instead revealed Tim Jarvis, the modern leader, as peevish and somewhat selfish. In reading reviews of the show it seems that he found himself at odds with the production company and their values. But I don't think a leader of Shackleton's mettle would have reacted in the same way Jarvis did. It all resulted in a dissonance which made it uncomfortable for me to watch the screen.

The literature of polar exploration is, almost by definition, a clinic on successful and failed leadership. The physical stress and the fact of the unknown created demands on the expedition principals and their crews that would reveal all of their strengths and weaknesses. I have learned that in the last few years Shackleton's accomplishments have been used by many business writers and teachers as a model to be examined and adopted (see here and here and here). My favourite description of his qualities as a leader was written by Sebastian Coulthard who was the engineer on the modern expedition we watched last night. His words resonate with me. I see my own style reflected in all of them.

I wonder about the relationship between my childhood fascination with Shackleton and with polar exploration generally (Scott's failures also interested me) and my current approach to working with groups. Why were those stories more compelling to me than the books my peers were reading? Was I drawn to read them because my young brain was looking for a way to organize the world and found what it needed in Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen and even Robert Scott? Or did I see myself in those books? Was I already organizing my thoughts in ways similar to those described in Coulthard's piece and therefore found the books soothing in their familiarity? That's a lot of questions. I have no answers.

* Research shows me that the cover art I remember is of Endurance: Shackleton's incredible Voyage but my recollection of the title is Valiant Voyage. Lansing did write an abridged book with that title but the covers don't look like the book we owned.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Just For Fun tour, stage 3

Today we did a loop in the Mahone Bay, Blue Rocks and Lunenburg area with a stop for a snack at Sweet Indulgence in Lunenburg. The turnout was good - ten people. But I would label it 'great' because there was  a wide range of people represented. Two strong cyclists who joined us for the first time and there were people who have been stalwarts this summer and even someone who has been mostly absent since our Cabot Trail trip in 2012. 

My favorite part of the trip was the trip out to Blue Rocks. We rode through Stonehurst which is more protected than Blue Rocks proper. It is a great place to sea kayak because there are lots and lots of narrow passages. Once you are into the labyrinth you feel like you have entered a magic world. It was neat to see the water from the land for a change.



Corkum's Island

As we stood at the end of the road I discovered that several of the newest to our group are also avid sea kayakers and live within a short paddle of our house. So we have already planned a full moon paddle to an island in the Bay sometime next summer. Let the fun continue.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Is it art?

Edited to add: In hindsight I should have titled this post 'Leafing behind my inhibitions'.

Nope. Nothing we created at FAB yesterday and today qualified as art. But it definitely qualifies as play, and play is important. When FAB first started I was a bit leery of the technique demos that are organized for most meetings. My thought was always "I don't want to do any of that in my own art." There were other things inhibiting my full-on participation. I didn't appreciate the role of experimentation or play or whatever other label might apply to non-directed work. And I felt a pressure to perform - to make something of value to others, not just me.

I am pleased to say that I have managed to leave (almost) all of that behind. On Thursday I did have a sense that I wasn't very interested in melting but I shoved that idea into the cupboard in the back of my head. I have now had too many experiences where experimentation with a technique led me to a new medium or idea. And that's what happened. I found a quick and very satisfying way to make repeated forms and will definitely be following up once an idea for a big piece occurs to me.

One of my favourite bloggers, Margaret Cooter, recently attended a five day contemporary crafts course (the first relevant post appeared on July 30, 2014). The participants dabbled in mark-making, textiles, basketry, jewelry and ceramics. I am certain that most of the course was 'play' for the participants. But I am equally certain that they took away insights and techniques that they will use in the years to come.

For those who are interested here's how I played. I melted lots of things - plastic bags of various weights, polyester chiffon, drapery fabrics of unknown origin, heavyweight Lutradur and a grey product similar to Typar using an iron (with parchment paper ) and light duty heat gun. I used acrylic paint both before and after heating. I was most attracted to the last two products so I focused on them. Pretty soon I could see leaves in the melted sheets and I began to cut them out. Then I painted them. I also ended up cutting leaf shapes from three colours of organza but don't know if those will ever be used.

On the left Typar after melting, on the right Typar leaves painted.

On the bottom heavyweight Lutradur melted with heat gun, on top painted leaves.

Kate Madeloso, who inspired our play this weekend, had the bright idea to put clear pigment ink and a coarse embossing powder on a sample of the Lutradur. 

I will likely make more leaves and follow up with them in a project but my mind is spinning with the possibility of creating identical objects which are not identical. I'm not sure what shape I will choose but it probably won't be leaf-like.

As an aside to those of you who have your own art group, this was our first ever overnight meeting. I was struck by how much 'lighter' everyone felt. Not having to pack up and rush home to families made a difference from the outset of the first day.

We are all talented cooks as well. Out potluck dinner included quinoa and broccoli salads, vegetarian chili with cornbread, spanakopita, a cheesy cauliflower casserole, artichoke filled pasta shells and ended with pecan pie and carrot cake. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fun with FAB

We spent the day melting plastics and fabrics. The instructions were to play until something captured our fancy and then to run with that technique or piece to create a wrapper for a container or a free-standing vessel. As we already knew, everyone took a very different approach. No one finished their project but a couple came close. We will reconvene tomorrow for more work.

Here's a sample of the works in progress.

Debbie Vermeulen

Barb Lussing

Karen Henry

Kate Madeloso

Kate again - made with hot glue

Susan Tilsley-Manley


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Month of fun continues

I'm off this afternoon for a two night sleepover with my FAB friends. On Friday we will be doing a guided play session which will involve melting various plastics and synthetic fabrics (working outdoors). Based on the supply list I think we will then use the results of our experiments to make a fabric vessel.

We will have a potluck dinner together on Friday night. I am bringing artichoke heart stuffed pasta shells in lemon ricotta bechamel. The recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman. Her blog is a fantastic resource. It consists of recipes that she has developed as well as some by others (properly credited) that she has tweaked. I have had wonderful results with all of the savoury dishes that I have tried but we find many of the desserts too sweet for our taste.

Oh, there will also be wine.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Something odd happened yesterday. I was waiting for an appointment and was crocheting on the next unfinished project. A woman who was leaving after her own appointment caught sight of what I was doing and came into the room to talk. She was interested in the garment I was making because she also crochets. Then she asked about the yarn I was using. She even fondled the work which was appropriate because it is really nice squishy yarn.

Then she took two steps back and said "Can I just say this? You are very calm."

I wasn't sure what to say so I thanked her. Her response was just to repeat her observation and then she left the building.

It was odd but it was also somehow reassuring. I feel calm although I prefer the word tranquil. It is good to get independent confirmation that I am not deluding myself or the people around me.

When I think of tranquil, I think of this

I have been toying with the idea of a daily art practice. I know several people who do it successfully but I don't think I could sustain it without guilt or stress. But I have been wondering about a way to capture, perhaps weekly, a visual representation of my physical and emotional state. The episode yesterday somehow moved me a step closer to that. With that in mind I then did what I always do - I researched calm.

And what is the most interesting thing I learned? That some people don't pronounce the L sound. Who knew? That information sent me down the rabbit hole of  discussions about the silent L in English. Pretty soon I found myself stuck at the Grammarphobia blog. Don't go there if language and its usage fascinate you. You too will get stuck. I have bookmarked the site so that I can return when I am less calm and need a diversion.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Life is too short

Finishing a sweater that is already making me unhappy is not a good way to spend time in August. The sweater goes in the trash. There is enough yarn left for a pretty hat. That will have to do.

Monday, August 11, 2014

One thing leads to another

Alan sent me a note in response to my 'Why not me' post. He asked if I knew this quatrain, Eternity, by William Blake.

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the wingèd life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.

I did not and started to do some reading about the poem. In doing so I stumbled on this blog. The world is full of such interesting people and we are lucky that a few take the time to share what is in their heads. In a weird turn of events the author of the blog is an organizer of a conference on British poetry of the First World War to be held next month at Oxford. Edward Thomas, the author of Adlestrop, is considered one of the war poets.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Just For Fun tour, stage 2

This was the cinnamon bun ride.

We started and ended at Lawrencetown Beach.
Cyclists will note that the flags are straight out. Headwind.

Black dots in the water and on the wave are surfers.

I organized a second Just For Fun ride today in place of the training rides we have been doing. It is August in Nova Scotia and that generally means that everyone is on vacation and has multiple events planned each day - it is how we all get through the rest of the year. So I didn't expect many people to attend today. Several were doing a century ride elsewhere in the province, others were sailing and entertaining families and one was even doing continuing education.

I was right. Only one person showed up in addition to me and George. But what a day we had. Shannon is a student from my indoor classes. She started in the winter with the goal of finding an activity that she could do in spite of some back issues. By spring she had decided to purchase an outdoor bike. Unfortunately she didn't get it home until our weekly rides had increased in difficulty and length. I suggested that she start riding on the trail, gradually increasing distance and time in the saddle until she could do 55 km. At that point she would be able to tag along at the end of the group rides. This summer she attended a handling and rules of the road clinic that I offer to help people make the transition to the road and also learned to repair a flat.

A while ago she wrote to tell me that she had met her 55 km goal so I wasn't surprised to see her this morning. But I was delighted beyond measure by what I saw.

Her form was impeccable. 
Her feel for the bike was obvious. She had never ridden hills so I gave her a quick ninety second talk on cadence and shifting. Her shifting decisions were almost perfect. I had never spoken with her about how to manage a difficult climb but she told me that she was avoiding looking at the top and was riding from point to point. 
She pulled out her own tools when we stopped to make an adjustment to her saddle. I know that sounds normal but, believe me, it isn't. Most people are not self-sufficient. She later told me that she is taking an old bike apart and putting it back together so she can learn how it works. 
She maintained a nice average speed - almost good enough to stick with the slower group on a club ride. Not bad given that it was her first time on the road.

That's all great stuff, but the icing on the cake (bun?) came later. George and l left the parking lot a few minutes after she did. A few kilometres along we saw a car stopped on the shoulder and someone who looked like Shannon bent over near it. We pulled over to see if she needed help. No, she didn't. She had just realized that she had forgotten to do her stretching!

In spite of the small turnout we definitely had fun today. Shannon left with a giant smile on her face and my permission to brag to family and friends. I had the kind of day that is most rewarding to people like me. There is nothing better than the chance to make a difference and work with someone who genuinely wants to improve their skills.