About Me

Where do you start when you absolutely hate talking about yourself? Enough of that BS so here it goes.

I was born in Montreal June 17th 1953. I was adopted and named Mary Anne McNea at two and a half. Raised as an airforce brat, with only two major moves during the period of growing up, (from adoption to adolescence) which is practically a miracle for someone in the service? Trenton Ontario and St Hubert in Montreal were it.

My dad loved sailboats and for the last two years before he retired a major in the forces he began to build a Samson Design concrete sailboat. It was 45ft at the waterline and aprox. 53 overall. Three years after the start, the boat was launched in Montreal. With the masts securely placed on the deck, my parents, myself and a friend traveled intercoastal to Miami, where my dad could do the rigging in the sunshine, which was more agreeable than another freezing winter in Montreal.

A few years later my dad was killed in Miami in a freak accident, and as tragic as it was, I have peace in knowing that he actually saw his dream come true by sailing, even if only a few times, in the boat that he built. Living your dream, now that’s an accomplishment.

My mother and I moved to Burlington Ontario, where my brother and his family resided. I got engaged and married a little over a year of arriving there, which then changed my surname to Butler. I was married at twenty-one, wow that seems so young when I look back. Coincidence or not, I was divorced twenty-one years later. It was a great marriage, and three wonderful girls came out of it all. Andrea who is now almost thirty, Amanda who just turned twenty-seven and last but not least Linn-Jung, who we adopted from South Korea turns twenty-one this year.

When the divorce happened I believed that my life was over. I mean a mother I knew I would always be, that goes without saying. But if not my ex’s wife, who the hell am I? Obviously somewhere in there I had lost, or at least felt that I had, my own existence. So then began the journey, that led me to, who Iam today.

In the beginning of the so called end, my divorce, some pretty strange things were happening to my body. I believed that it was just the stress of my life at that time, but I was soon to discover that many different challenges were ahead of me, ones that I never could have imagined.

When I look back strange events were taking place long before my ex left. I had constant jerking leg spasms when trying to sleep at days end. Any light that came into the bedroom at night even from the crack under the door would keep me awake. A breathe of fresh air means a fan on, even in the dead of winter with snow coming in the window. The final draw for me was when my eyes started seeing double, and then one day I walked into the grocery store and the floor the shelves, everything started moving in a wave. I thought the wild sixties were catching up with me, except I was in my mid forties at this time and was not enjoying it as I would have in my teens. To make a long story short, after a battery of tests I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I went from not wanting to live at the thought of being alone to wanting to live more than anything in the world. Its amazing how ones outlook on life can change at the drop of a pin.

I moved twice before I found my passion. It was a small three bedroom house with an attached garage, and I would spend my days playing at re-finishing old furniture. I had not too much of a clue at what I was doing, all I knew was that I somehow enjoyed it, even though it was a tad dirty and messy for me to do these things. The garage walls were plain white, painted drywall and I started to ponder one day of what I could do to it. Went to bed one night and woke up knowing exactly what I wanted in the garage, because I dreamt it. Now that’s corny. All I knew was that I wanted to bring the outdoors inside. I wanted a tree on my garage wall. So I started drying tons of japanese maple leaves in pages of old books, trying to figure out how I was going to do this.

Oh I forgot to mention that up to this point, seriously, I had absolutely shown no site of craftiness in my entire life. My poor girls had to go elsewhere to friend’s houses to do neat crafty things because it did not interest me in the least, and let’s not forget the mess, for the mere thought of it would mentally have my broom and vacuum going. God I was such a bore.

Now where to start, so hence a garage corner was re-born. I figured that I could actually nail a large bare branch into the corner of the wall for the trunk of the tree, and then it was off to the races gluing the dried leaves to the wall. I went as far as putting some on the ceiling and floor, to make it more realistic to me. I absolutely loved going in the garage to work now, for in some strange way the tree seemed to give me life.

Dare I mention my girls, for at this point they thought I was losing it, or in the least going through that thing a women in her late forties goes though, the dreaded change of life. Little did they know that if this was the so called change of life, I was excited about it.

Anyway reluctantly I started showing my tree to friends that would drop bye and to my surprise they seemed to honestly like it. In fact one friend said something that threw me for a loop, not only did they seem to like it but suggested that I put one behind glass in a frame. Oh right, like I know how to do that, and I can’t even paint, so how is the background to get done? I mean I’m even a disgrace to drawing stick figures.

Obviously it all got worked out; I started collecting throw away frames and re-finishing them, have even made one small frame. Not fancy but hey you have to start somewhere. I use old door skins or paneling for the back of the pictures so that I have meat to screw the tree trunk to. As far as the actual leaves, flowers, grasses are concerned I either collect from friends and neighbors, or grow them myself. Not everything dries well so it’s a constant learning experience, but one that I love. The pictures themselves can take anywhere from weeks to at least six months from start to finish. The hardest is getting the background the color, that I see in my head, and messy oh my god. I’m definitely not a neat freak anymore, now it’s the vacuum that gets dusty. I like that. I’ve learned since I started, about five years ago, that doing the tree pictures are my absolute favorite. I could look at them forever and I keep them hung in my house for some time before I look into other avenues of showing them. I hate to see them go; it’s like a member of the family as dumb as that must sound.

I feel like the luckiest woman in the world with this passion of mine. I mean think about it, I am constantly inspired by nature’s ever changing beauty. Wind, rain drought, why I just love mother nature, for she keeps changing the picture in my head daily, until that moment when the picture is done and can last behind glass for a lifetime.

Mary Anne

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