Thursday, December 18, 2008

how winter makes me reconsider it all...

Today is one of those days that the air is so still and cold and full of winter that you can see it. It blurs out the edges of trees and pulls the world in close. Everything slows down, becomes mystery, any kind of movement seems like a transportation between worlds...makes me think of Avalon this morning.

Its not terribly cold though and after brushing off my car this morning, I stood there for a while watching my breath hang in the air and counting the seconds before it started to disappear. Sometimes I really like winter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

since it's christmas let's be glad...

Today my bangs got dragged through my wrap. I didn't notice it until I was back at work and supremely confused about where the thai sesame smell was coming from...washed my hands a few times, checked my clothes and my face.

It was my hair. I'm going to get it cut tonight.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

i once knew a girl in the years of my youth, with eyes like the summer...

okay, i've been a bad blogger. Its been well over a week since I last said i would post regularly. To be honest, work has been so ridiculously crazy busy in this christmas rush that I've had no time to slack off and write blogs. So rather than berate myself for it, I'm going to post another photo to talk about. Actually, I'm posting two. I had another photo in mind, but yesterday I saw different one and it got me to thinking.
I live on a farm in the city and it is beautiful. My front yard leads out to the paved city street while my backyard stretches out into fields of flax and wheat and tree lined gravel walks. I like wandering out along the gravel road behind my house because the trees are dramatic. Dark black trunks against the greens and browns and oranges of the earth and the wiry black branches so stark against the western sky. I love it. And I take lots of photos out there because the sunset always looks so beautiful out there. I took this one earlier last month. Just home from traveling for months, glad to be resting in the places i love best here in edmonton, but also leaving pieces of me spread across everywhere I'd been.

This is a photo I've taken 100 times, but every time the sun turns a certain colour of gold, or the shadows stretch out to a specific length, or the trees look a particular shade of impossible dark, I feel compelled to shot it again. and again. and again. Each time its a different moment for me. Its different from the last time I took the shot, because I am different. Its always interesting for me to see this image again and again because to me, the moment is always changing. I know something about the photo that no one else does. I know what I was doing before I went to shoot, I know what I was thinking about, I know what I was trying not to think about, I know what I was wanting and needing from life in that moment. I know all these things that are so intrinsically linked to that specific photo for me, that any other viewer would never guess at.

Which is why, when I see this same moment through someone else's eyes, it catches me off guard.

Patrick took this photo yesterday while I was at work. It's strange to see this moment and know it so well and know my own experience in it and then see his and wonder about what was going through his mind. Where he had been before he went out to shoot. What it was that called him out of the warm house into -30 degrees to capture this.

It reminds me that every image has so much more inside of it than we are every able to know. The complexity of someone attempting to capture their own experience is incredible.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

we'll call it christmas when the adverbs begin...

I am still here and alive despite reports of me falling off the face of the earth. Though, I'm sure the 5 people who read this blog will have long since stopped checking for my updates. I think I resolved a while back to write more entries, more often. Well, I suck.

I've been throwing around this idea lately about starting a kind of photoblog, but I thought that I might end up abandoning it or this one or both, so instead I've come up with a compromise. I am going to post a photo every week on this blog...maybe it'll be something recent, maybe something old...but I've decided I want to be more aware of my work. Better able to speak about it, to defend it, to understand it. So I'm gonna start here. I don't plan on writing about technical stuff or even really critiquing it - mostly I just want to talk about WHY I took the photo and what it looks like to me...and hopefully this will inspire me to write more frequently about other things as well.

I like taking portraits. A lot. Not set up ones, but ones that just sort of come out of a moment. A space that can't be recreated. It's something I usually don't think about. I just see it. The light, the colour, the all seems to come independent of anything I do. I'm not a creator, I'm a witness. There is a portion of text that Dryden writes in his "A Song for St Cecilia's Day 1687":

From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

Its this beautiful image of the whole of creation being created by harmony and music and the whole of the entire universe comes together in humanity. When I take a portrait of someone in the context of one of these impossible to recreate moments, this is how I feel. Like, what I am capturing is just this tiny glimpse of something that is massive and overwhelmingly complex and infinitely important. And what I capture of it is tiny and fleeting: the edge of a smile dipping in at the corner, the smooth line of light along a cheekbone, eyelashes peeking off the edge of a profile, a stray hair blown outside of a hood. Things that just hint at something so much deeper, so much more.

Today I want to talk about this portrait:

I took this one of Jamie while I was walking with her in the playground across from our house after it had rained. It was one of my favourite afternoons of last summer. What I like the three pieces of hair around her face in the background...two falling forward, one still clinging to the inside of her (actually my) hoodie. I like how her eyelashes are super dark here, but not without detail. I like the way she has her mouth set while she's thinking and how the zipper creeps up at the bottom of the image, but what I like BEST about it is the piece on the close side of the hoodie that is being pulled out of the frame. It makes me think there is something more to this image, this moment that just shows itself for the briefest instant before the wind lets that piece of hair fall back into place. That's what I see when I look at this photo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

throw a stone and watch the ripples flow...

Its strange how we measure...our time, our money, ourselves. I once saw this Get Fuzzy cartoon that I really enjoyed:

We really do measure everything around us by what we individually experience. We measure our money by pints, by car tune-ups, by the pair of shoes that match our new outfit, by the next plane flight. We measure our time by best before dates on milk cartons, by the next client's deadline, by when we sleep and when we wake.

I have no big thoughts about this. Just an observation. I don't know if its a good thing or a bad thing, if its a sign of self awareness or self indulgence. I'm going to have to think on this more.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

crickets talkin' back and forth in rhyme...

I've been told that I haven't been blogging enough lately. Which is true. It has been a while. Not for lack of thinking/experiencing lately, but I guess it has just sort of fallen to the wayside since I've been home. But no more.

I've been thinking about legacy lately. I was out on the town this weekend and was being properly introduced to someone who I sort of knew already, or at least, I knew who he was. He hadn't ever put my face to my name apparently and responded by saying "Oh, YOU are Bri. yeah, I know who you're a legend!" Which made me laugh because he was just kind of being funny but also kind of commenting on my level of involvement at King's when I was there. I remember hearing past student's names thrown around in my years at King's simply because of all they were involved in, and it was strange to me to be on the other end of it. Anyway, I was out with my cousins who came up to visit for a few days, which is always a good time, but in particular, this was an important visit. Chris, the cousin closest to me in age, had returned from his tour in Afghanistan earlier this fall and this was the first time I had seen him since. He came over this afternoon for grilled cheese and to show me some of his photos before he went back home. Some of them made me in awe of the Afghani landscape, some of them made me tighten up inside to know that Chris had been through these dangerous places and some of them made me laugh because he had taken quite a lot of photos of himself when he was bored. He and some of the other guys would swap photos and I started to notice a real self portrait trend. Every once in a while Chris would come across a batch of photos with the same guys in them over and over again...they were always wanting their picture taken, he said. And I started thinking about that. About how, in the middle of a very real military mission, these guys were constantly jumping in on photo opportunities. To have a kind of concrete evidence of their existence, of their life there, of who they are. When I watch the news and hear of another Canadian casualty, its so often accompanied by a photo of them standing beside their army buddies in the desert or in front of their barracks with a gun slung over their shoulder or poking their head out from behind the gun on their tank. And I couldn't help but see this all in the photos that Chris had. I wondered if, when the photo was taken, the solider in it thought about whether or not it would accompany news of his death if he were hit with a rocket the next hour.

I am reading this very-well-timed-for-my-life-right-now book called Brida. There was a passage that I read today where a mother is telling her daughter a story from her past and concludes with, "Thank you for listening to me. It's the first time I've ever told anyone that story. I was always afraid I might die without having done so, and that it would be wiped forever from the face of the Earth. Now you will keep it for me."

So lately I've been thinking about legacy. About how story and image can pass along a history. I have always been somewhat aware of this, but I'm really starting to understand that it is a driving force in my life. To keep a history. My love for language and for is leading up to something bigger in me, outside of me. I'm beginning to understand that history slips easily through a generation's fingers and the consequences are profound. So there are certain people who must, as part of who they are, carry the story. I think I'm one of those...maybe not in a universal, encompassing way...but I feel the weight of history pressing on me - the story of the family, the story of the land, the story of this time in this place. I feel the urgency of it upon me and I know it has chosen me to carry it. To keep it. To share it when the time comes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

there's a design to what I did and said...

I've been home for over a week now. I've been working for the past 5 days and life seems to have settled down to a "normal" kind of lull. I'm getting good at printing things and knowing my way around Vivid Print and learning what its like to be working for a living again. It's friday and I'm waiting for my cousin Jodi to show up to have a couple of beers and catch up on everything. Life seems to be stretching out before me clearly...smoothly...enjoyably.
Beth is gone to visit Kaeli for the weekend and Jamie is on the phone upstairs. The cat is on my lap, kneading my leg and the familiar glow from the kitchen light is making shadows across the linoleum. Sufjan is singing quietly from the stereo. I am home.

And yet, I am everywhere else. I close my eyes and I see Vik or Skagafjörður or Akureyri looking out at the unpredictable north atlantic. Drinking wine, squishing black sand beneath my feet, licking salt off my lips. I close my eyes and I'm in Kingston, wandering back to Melisa's in a blizzard with 4.5 liters of wine and some perogies. I close my eyes and I'm in Killarney, biking through unbelievably green forest, taking photos, falling behind and then catching up again with Pam.

It feels as though I have lived in a dream these past two months. Somehow I need to sort out what was reality and what was imagination and work from there. Somehow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

every time you close your eyes...

I am home. It feels strange to be back, but also like nothing has changed. As if we were never gone. I woke up motivated today. That rarely happens. So I decided to revamp my room. I came home to a pile of laundry that still needed to be done in the middle of my floor and with all of my traveling exploding out of my bag onto my floor, I decided there needs to be a change. I also felt like my room, my closet, my life was getting very cluttered and needed to be purged. I'm not very good a purging stuff. I usually end up on sitting on the floor 3 hours later reading old letters from friends with pile of clothes on my lap that I never wear but can't bring myself to throw out. Today though, today was different. I have two big shopping bags of clothes going to value village and a big black garbage bag of everything else that no one (including myself) would want. And it feels good. I feel like I'm making space in my life.
Next, is the bookshelves. No, I'm not throwing any books out, but they need to be reordered. They need to have places where they will fit and not just collect dust, have months of bills piled on top of them and fall off the edges onto the floor every few days.
I even got the inspiration to fix up my futon a little. It has always had these 3yr old pen drawings of scrawled hearts and stick people on the top of the wood from the family I inherited it from and today I painted it. I didn't have a paint brush, so I used a sock with hole in the heel that I was going to throw out. That wasn't terribly effective though so I ended up just squeezing the paint onto my fingers and spreading it across the wood. It was really satisfying.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

but every now and then when I'm sleeping, I still have a dream that I'm flying...

I wandered down to the harbour today. It was beautiful and clear and the 30 minute walk along the ocean was relatively warm and sunshiny. I stood and watched the water for a while, took some photos for some other tourists and then explored my way between the docked ships until I was out of tourist territory. Along one of the thoroughfares between docks, I stumbled upon this little restaurant with a blinking "OPID" sign. On the window it said "Lobstersoup" so I went in. It was a tiny little room: chipped cement floor, three planks anchored into walls to serve as table with kleenex dispensers at each end and things that looked like old milkcans scattered around for chairs.
A guy came from the back wearing a plaid shirt and yellow fisherman's pants held up by suspenders. Definitely working pants, not costume pants. I wondered for a second if it was sanitary for him to come straight off the docks and cook, but then I thought "I'm sure I've eaten worse." So I asked for the only thing they seemed to serve...Lobstersoup. He came back a few minutes later with a little basket of cut up tiny baguette and a styrofoam cup of brownish-reddish liquid.
Now some of you may know how I feel about Boualong's Tom Yum. I want you to take that and multiply it by 9. This was THE BEST soup I have ever tasted. Sitting alone in the tiny "Seabaron" restaurant, I thought I just might die from sheer food ecstasy. And, the bread was even warm.
I don't care if you like seafood or not - because this is like no "seafood" you've ever had - this soup alone is reason enough to come to Iceland.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

we drank fine wine in one swallow...

It is winter here. It changed over the course of yesterday. Yeah, its been cold for a while, but this morning when I woke up (or afternoon), it was winter. There was no snow or wind even really. The sky was just as overcast as it has been for a while now, but it was winter. You can smell it, taste it. Feel it in the rock hard ground beneath your feet. I stand in the kitchen making toast, listening to my new Ane Brun cd (which is coincidentally called “Changing Seasons”) and I feel like…well, I’m not exactly sure what I feel like. I feel like crying and like laughing and like being alive is one of the strangest and most complicated things in the world.
I wish I had a guitar to play along with Ane and sing in this empty kitchen about seasons and time and treehouses and the rain.

Lullaby for Grown Ups - Ane Brun

Go to sleep
with closed eyes
Your prophecies
won’t be fulfilled tonight.

When you think
of falling skies
remember there are a million ways to die

Don’t be afraid
Don’t wear your inside out
To keep you warm

So rest your head
It’s just as well
You can’t keep the sky from falling

Friday, October 17, 2008

and it drifts like smoke...


We are back in Iceland! Reykjavik is good. A little cooler and a little less green than when we left it, but still doing alright. Its still a little moody, weather-wise, but I’m sure it’ll come around. We’ve been at the Airwaves music festival since Wednesday and I’m averaging 7 concerts a day…hoping to up that number today and tomorrow.

I am craving a Prikid swiss mocha, but refusing to get addicted to the coffee that I no longer cringe at in it. Good thing there’s a 40 minute walk between it and I. And with the way the rain just whipped up again, I’m quite content to sit inside the kitchen and sip my hot chocolate and baileys. I’m thinking it would be lovely to go next door and sit in the hot pools while the cool rain pours down, but that would entail me braving the rain out to the tent, finding my swimming suit, walking down the block, showering and then running through the cold from the door to the pool before I could enjoy it. So yes, I think I will stay here for now. I’ve heard so many great new artists already this week, but this morning, I just wanted to hear Norah, so I’ve got her playing while I’m cooking up my eggs and toast. It feels really quite cozy domestic this morning: no one else in the kitchen, which is all windows on 3 sides, warm light spilling out from under the shelves, the smell of breakfast, socked feet, hoodie, leaning against the counter holding my mug close to my face with both hands. It makes me think of home. I think this is the first time I have, actually. Pam is safe back home, catching up on sleep. Jamie is getting into the homebound frame of mind. But me, I could stay here another month. This morning reminds me of last year about this time though: just finished landscaping, no plans, nothing urgent to do, reading poetry in the quiet morning kitchen with tea, nothing but time. This doesn’t make me wish that I was home though…the eve of winter for me in Edmonton this year will be spent very differently. I desperately need to work. I have left old work unfinished and waiting for me. I have new work that’s hovering constantly, ready to come crashing at me. There will be no time to really catch my breath beforehand. Rather, I’m planning to just hold it and jump in…probably surfacing around Christmas, gasping for air. Life moves so quickly. Its only October 17th and I’m talking about Christmas as though it is right around the corner.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

and it's coming into sight as the days keep turning into night...

This is for the old Irish man that stood outside the bus window in his tweed cap and jacket and winked and waved at me.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how one year can change the course of an entire life. Then I began to think of how inadequate a year is to measure a life. I am 23 years old. What does that mean really? 23 years means very different things to different people.
I feel as though we are intended to live each year in the direction of the kind of life we want to live. I've spent the better part of the past two years working landscaping and being unemployed and wandering around strange parts of Europe and pouring scotch in dark, ritzy bars. When I was in school, it was easy to justify doing simply what I loved because it was leading up to something, I was moving forward in my education, my prospects, my skills, my life...but what can I say for myself now? Have I stopped moving? Am I stuck? I don't feel stuck. I feel like I'm making decisions, not on the year, but in the moment, that make me very happy. Because in reality, life moves by leaps and pauses, not through years and numbers. If I'm not living every moment as the kind of life I want to live...what good is a year to me?
In The Shack it says "Today we are throwing a big rock in the lake and those ripples will reach places you would not expect."

So this is to the Irish man who made me smile and laugh and wave back. Whose actions, unknowingly, made me realize that I am happy with this day, with my life.
I hope I can live my life to do the same and watch the ripples return to me in beauty I did not expect.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I like to dance all night and some of the day...

-Overheard at The Duke public house in Dublin-

scratch that.
In trying to focus on what I'm hearing, I realized that I am taking so much in that I can't begin to write it all down. Its amazing what your mind can process at once without you realizing.

All the snippets of phrases and laughter and sighs mixed with bar stools scratching the floor, change tinkling into registers and the sound of glass against glass, glass against wood, glass against hand. The far-off crash of dishes, the scrape of fok against plate.
Is this comin' or goin'? shouts the barmaid
Newspaper pages flick against air, the nervous shuffle of bags and tourist's feet. Guinness rolling down pint glass, foam curling around grate, gripping at the edges until it becomes too much and then, that first,


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

mocking us with the sight of what we might have known...

Its 4:37am. I'm waiting for the FlyBus to take us to the airport at 5. People who will be taking it with me are slowly filtering downstairs. Its turning cold here. Supposed to be -12 tonight. The French man is wearing his wool sweater with a winter jacket over top. His ball cap is on backwards and he's jumping from foot to foot while he blows into his fists and rubs his hands together.
Its not really THAT cold.

I'm listening to a song called "Have you Passed Through this Night". I don't know who its by. You can listen to it here:
Its really good. I feel like it is one of those songs that would play in a movie where someone is standing in the midst of a great crowd of moving people. All of them rushing and going places with purpose while they just stand there. Watching, listening, closing their eyes. I feel a little like this will be me in London. So much to see. No time to see it, let alone try and take it in. I'm already mentally bracing myself for it all. My camera battery is charged, my cards empty. I'm sure they will be full by the time 48 hours rolls around. Two days will feel like I've barely caught my breath before we meet Pamela at Heathrow.

After settling in to Iceland and Reykjavik and feeling very at home here, the next two weeks will put me back into "travel mode". Just as I was beginning not to feel so much like a tourist. I can't wait. Mostly, I'm excited to sit down in Dublin and have a pint. That will make me feel more like myself.

Until Ireland, have a good week and you'll probably see more from us on Friday/Saturday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

riders on the storm...

I have a polaroid that has written across it
- It's all as easy as it seems -

Its not really a photo of anything. Overexposed, I can make out a window and a lamp, one wall is red and maybe some books in the bottom left corner. Either way, it fits this theme in my life lately. Since Cafe Paris in Akureyri, I've been paying more attention to the thoughts spinning around in my head. I feel like this summer and this trip and everything I've been reading and seeing and experiencing, is a part of a movement. All part of something that is leading up to, building up to....something. Something that will require courage and strength and the ability to believe that the risk is worth the cost in the end.
This polaroid stares up at me from the worn table of a corner booth in Prikid on a nondescript Monday afternoon.

- It's all as easy as it seems -

What is? I wonder. Relationship? Career? Growth? Love? Life? Yeah, when i think about them, it seems to be simple. I can completely envision what I need to do and say and accomplish in order to be living fully, in order to move forward into the next step towards what I want. But when I'm faced with the risk, the moment, the timing...I get scared and back off when I need to be stepping up. And then the moment is gone. But, somewhere, repeatedly, I keep hearing...

- It's all as easy as it seems -

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ransom notes keep falling out your mouth...

Last night was the big runtur (google it) in Reykjavik. Every friday is. Jamie and I haven't gone out on a friday yet. So when we got in last night from doing the golden circle run (Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss) it was late and we were hungry. So about 10:30 we headed out towards downtown to hit up Habibi - probably the best quesadillas in the world. We had planned on stopping in at Belly's for a pint, but the door was locked strangely, so we decide found our way into the Celtic Cross instead. My new favourite spot in Reykjavik. It was tiny and quiet with tables hidden behind old wooden doors and stainedglass windows. It was beautiful. And a pint of Grolsh only cost 650kr (roughly $7 CND at today's rate).

To get downtown and back from the hostel campground, you have to walk pretty much along the water. Along the way there is a new building going up with three large cranes around it. The wind is as constant as the rain here and as it passes through the cranes, it makes the most beautiful, haunting sound. It has a gorgeous melody. I don't think Jamie likes it so much. It seems to freak her out a bit, but to me, it wraps itself around my soul and lets me breathe. I think when we're back here for those last two weeks, I might just sit out there along the harbour and listen to it for a while some night.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

won't you come out tonight...

After driving the length of the Snaefells peninsula coast today, Jamie and I came upon Akranes where we planned on setting up for the night. Unfortunately, upon driving around town, we found it was pretty dreary and industrial and being totally turned off by it, we decided to continue on to Reykjavik which was only 30 minutes and one tunnel under the sea away. So we are back in Reykjavik (which means we have successfully driven the entire coast of Iceland!!! About 5000km I think) for the night. Only for the night. We have our car until Monday and so tomorrow we set out to see Thingvellir national park - where we will be camping between the two continental plates..yes, very cool. And then off around the area to see Geysir and Gullfoss and experience all the cheesiness of Viking Village before we have to have the car back to Budget at 2pm on Monday.
That all being said, I have learned many things about Iceland as a nation having now seen the sights around the country.

#1: Not everyone in Iceland is technically beautiful...and most do not have naturally super blond hair (sorry to shatter the myth people!)

#2: Every single tiny little town on the map (and off) has a swimming pool. If there are two houses within 5 miles, there will be a swimming pool. And Elvis and Coldplay....they really like their Elvis and Coldplay.

#3: Along those same lines...almost every farm on Iceland is named and is on the map. No lie. Its strange. Most of them end in "Holt"

#4: Vik and the Snaefell lava fields have been some of the most life changing scenery I have ever experienced.

#5: I could definitely live here. In one of the following towns/cities: Akureyri, Vik, Grundarfjördur or Reykjavik....probably in that order.

#6: Icelanders have a very strange idea about what constitutes a major highway...or even a road for that matter. Also, they have very poor road construction skills. I won't give the details until I'm back safe and sound and mom and dad don't have to worry!

#7: Horse meat is amazing. Come on now, don't knock it 'till you've tried it.

#8: I do not like riding horses. Stay tuned to Jamie's blog for an up and coming account of that event.

#9: Geothermal pools are great. And I think they could get me into a really healthy lifestyle. I always feel like running when I'm finished in one and then going back and then eating lots of granola and skyr. Too bad they're not in Canada. There goes that plan.

#10: Vikings still live here. I saw one today. He was elderly and lumbering around with a GIANT beard, wearing only a speedo.

more later....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

your eyes are closed like you truely believe....

fuck holmavik.

yes I said it...sorry mom...but that has been the theme of Jamie and I´s past 24 hours. We drove from Skagastrond -the country music capital of Iceland (where we ate at the country bar...the only country bar in Iceland with its own radio station) to Holmavik yesterday. Getting there early in the afternoon, we decided to go a bit futher and camp at Dragnes, but first to stop and check out the museum of Icelandic sorcery and witchcraft which is Holmavik´s claim to fame. It was creepy. And strange. We got headsets and wandered around the warehouse looking at books and objects and fish heads. Some of it was interesting, some of it was boring, all of it was bizzare. The final room was the 'stone bowl' where they had one glowing red light on this stone with a hollow spot in it with all the creepy halloween music glory you could imagine. We decided that was enough and went back to reception where we found the kind middle age man who let us in (wearing a cute wool sweater at the time) now dressed up in full Icelandic socerer´s garb. It was creepy. After making casual small talk about the town and the tourist season with this bizzarely clothed man, we headed to Dragnes, only to find the road closed for construction. Neither of us wanted to stay in Holmavik to begin with, and definitely not after the museum, so we decided to try and make another hour or two of drivnig to reykjanes...4km out of Reykjanes, the road was closed for construction. We had the choice of driving another 200km to Isafjordur or turning back 80km to Holmavik. Our gas tank decided for us. We couldn´t make 200km. So back we went down the road a second time, deciding to fuel up in Holmavik and turn around and drive until we were tired and then set up the tent in a field somewhere when we wanted to stop for the night. We cruised into the Holmavik gas station...the only thing left open in town at 8pm, where the girl told us the pumps weren´t working. We were invited to stay and wait to see if they would be fixed in the next few minutes. Having literally NO other options, we settled down at a table in the gas station. I saw a phone and thought it might be a good time to call home as it would be the early afternoon and hearing a familiar voice from across the sea might make the day a bit better. I dug through my change to find the proper amounts and picked up the dial tone. When I walked back to the table, a storm had blown in, screaming wind and black black rain. I felt like we were in the first scenes of every horror movie I refuse to watch. After waiting for an hour, the gas station closed and we were told it would hopefully be working in the morning.
We slept in the car with the doors locked and were waiting at the pump when the station opened this morning to get the hell out of Holmavik.

In Isafjordur tonight. Much nicer town.

Friday, September 19, 2008

we tried to find some worms to aid in the decay...

So I haven't blogged recently...or since Reykjavik. Hopefully you're all following Jamie's blog who seems to manage the time to write one every time we stop for internet. There has been so much to see and experience since we left the capital. Lets do a point form "bring you up to speed"

Day One:
Reykjavik to Hella
: beautiful campground beside glacial river, really nice waitress at the cafe - reminded us of Krystal Braam, met a french couple also camping - nice people, drank draft Icelanic beer (Thule) and watched the rain come in.

Day Two:
Hella to Vik
: rain. lots and lots and lots and lots of rain. brilliant icelandic ocean highway and a strange side trip down a deadend secondary HWY 250, saw a nice waterfall though. Then saw lots more waterfalls. Got to Vik late. Horrible supper at Hotel Puffin....tasted like the smell of wet sheep. paid $35 for said supper. Set up tent at 10pm after giving up "waiting out the rain" in the pouring pouring rain. Whole tent wet. Sleeping bag wet. Cold, wet night.

Day Three:
Vik to Hofn
: Got up early, watched the North Atlantic ocean on our doorstep...stopped raining around 9am. Everything I own is wet. Walked along the black sand beaches in the early morning drizzle. Ran across black sand beaches back to higher ground in the early morning drizzle when I realized the tide was coming in much faster than I anticipated...ocean only grazing a heel as I leaped the last 2 feet to safety (the north atlantic is not a friendly ocean. Only 10 feet off shore the waves were easily over my head and cold and dark and vicious). Ate last of the soggy pastry for breakfast. Hiked with Jamie up the cliffs above the ocean and over the strange rock formations (best part of the trip for me so far! incredible!) Packed up wet tent and drove to national park (can't remember the name...lots of s's lots of k's and f's too). Gave "martin" the german a ride from park to Hofn. He said everything like this "I be wanting to go to the supermarket now?" Jamie and I are still using the martin voice for every other sentence. Stopped at glacial lake full of strange ice formations. Beautiful. Got to Hofn (pronounced hup-f) in hurricane wind conditions. Dried out the tent nicely. Found our French couple friends there too. OH! and had a wonderful meal at the cafe.

Day Four:
Hofn to Eggissldtir
(or something like that): Drove in ridiculously windy conditions along scary roads that ran along the edge of cliffs along the ocean. Beautiful drive. Stopped a few places to take photos along the road. Found a great cafe and ended up spending a fortune but eating tons and really good seafood. Found a liquor store, shared some wine, went to bed.

Day Five:
Eggissldatir to Akureyri
:Went from ocean views to highland desert. Drove the "28km" to Dettifoss which took about 45 minutes in and 45 minutes out. The most horrible road I have ever driven. all gravel, all take the bottom off your car washboard. Dettifoss not so impressive. Selfoss further down the trail totally worth it! Super windy, driving out we found ourselves in the middle of a sandstorm. sand EVERYWHERE. Now dry, but dirty. Went to Mytvan to find it pretty much all closed up for the season. Continued to Akureyri. Gorgeous town! Old and full of character like Reykjavik, but cleaner and brighter and with whales living in the harbour. Campsite pretty much closed. Staying in a beautiful sleeping loft at the hostel for the night. Drinking beer, watching tv and processing photos to be uploaded maybe tomorrow??

All that being said, I guess that wasn't so point form. Vik has been my favourite so far. Standing at the top of those cliffs looking over that terrifying ocean, I wished I could take this home. This feeling, this moment. Instead, I took a rock from the beach.

Okay, I'm tired now. I'll maybe write something interesting tomorrow. Good night.

Monday, September 15, 2008

gotta ask yourself the question...

This weekend Jamie and I found ourselves at a heavy metal pub with a random assortment of people...most of them french Canadians. I was talking for a while with Phil about our upcoming roadtrip around the island. He and his friend had just had enough time to rent the car for a few days and had just came back from their whirlwind version of our two week adventure. We were talking about how everyone in Europe seems to fly: even in Iceland, you can fly from Reykjavik in the south to Akureyri in the north rather than make the half day drive. Such a strange and foreign concept for Canadians who see driving from Edmonton to Lethbridge in a morning, no big deal. Phil said something that made me think though, he started to talk about how you don't really understand the land and the people unless you DRIVE it. Jamie and I have this car for two weeks - everyone has looked at us like we are crazy, as a trip around the island can be done in a day or so - but there is something about this country that I want to understand. Something that I will never know if we don't take our time to let the land work itself into us.

“I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” - Jack Kerouac

Thursday, September 11, 2008

look what the light did now...

So I made it safe and sound, writing this blog post at Reykjavik City Hostel. And other than having less than 5 hours of sleep to my credit in the past...well, since Saturday...I am doing excellent and things are slipping along smoothly.

I had an interesting encounters with water in the past few days though. Its not something I think about usually, coming from Alberta and all, but on Tuesday I found myself sitting on the edge of Lake Ontario with Patrick and Jamie. It was the first time I've seen any of the great lakes - I think - and I was pretty amazed by the way the water stretched all the way to the horizon. As we sat there, the waves kept on lapping against the bottom of my shoes. (as some of you have previously read about, I have this thing about the shoes I travel with and was pretty disappointed to not be able to take along my well-traveled blue sneakers this trip) Well, the longer we sat there, the more momentum the waves picked up and then suddenly, one burst up from under my shoe and up over the top of it, down the laces and I watched it drip back into the lake. Jamie laughed and said the great lakes were consecrating my shoes. I've thought about that a lot since then and have come to believe they were. Tuesday was a pretty big, full day for me and it felt like there was something sacred in the way the water ...for lack of a better word maybe... 'baptized' my untraveled, untested shoes. I was still mesmerized by that idea, staring down at my shoes about 5 minutes later when I neglected to see a chain fence that almost took me out at the knees. Its good to have a balance between reality and mysticism.

As a side note, I LOVE Reykjavik. In fact, everything I've seen of this country makes me fall in love with it. So far, it has more that met my expectations. I have so many things I could say here, even though I've only been gone a few days, but I think I'll stop for now. Jamie just updated her blog too though, so if you want a few more details and anecdotes about the trip this far, check it out:

Also, one last note...I took photos today. Not for a wedding or for a family or for a company...for me. To tell the story of this trip and of how I experience it. It felt really really good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

it felt like floooooooating, it felt like floating...

My candle burns at both ends,
it will not last the night.
But ah, my foes and oh, my friends,
it gives a lovely light!
-edna st. vincent millay

I have to be at the airport in 5 hours. I feel as though the past 48 hours have been frantic, but mostly, I think that is in my head. My head is definitely feeling frantic, but my past two days have been great. I secured a job that I may potentially love for November, I listened to the songs Dave wrote while he was in Kenya, had a sleep over with Karen, sat in on Arlette's 17th Century Lit class (yeah, I'm a geek...but I'm okay with it), had a surprise lunch with Theresa, got my hair cut and had a pint with Sheri. All in all, its been a good time. And on top of it all, I've cleaned the backyard of beer bottles and other post-party debris, I swept and washed the kitchen floor, am currently doing a load of laundry and I bought brand new bobbie pins. So other than actually having something packed, I'm doing well.

In Arlette's class this morning, they were discussing segments of Francis Bacon's writing. I'm not the biggest Bacon fan, but he has a way of putting things that is really beautiful. In his "On Empire", he starts by saying "It is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire, and many things to fear." He's talking about kings, but I couldn't help but turn it around. While talking with Arlette after class, she said that I have the whole world before me. And she's right. I feel as though I have 'many things to desire and few things to fear'.
What a beautiful place to be in.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

how can I get any rest now...

I've had a lot of things on my mind this weekend. After finishing my job on Friday, I started to realize that having to decide what to do and where to work and how it should be done all day at work was nicely keeping all of the things in my head at bay. Suddenly on Saturday, all the floodgates came open. Sometimes my thoughts are so loud and overwhelming I can barely pay attention to the people around me in the present. I think I need a trip. Like, I don't know, Iceland? Say, a week from today?

I also have been thinking lots about what to take and what to leave and I came to the decision to take only my hiking boots for shoes. Which makes me feel pretty torn. I have this pair of blue runners that have been with me everywhere I've traveled. I mean EVERYWHERE. LA, Houston, Honduras, San Fran, Singapore, Nepal, Bangladesh, Victoria, Iowa, Michigan...everywhere (except Quebec, because I didn't own them back then). But I am leaving them at home while I go to Iceland and Ireland and London and I'm feeling pretty sad about that. They don't fair very well in wet conditions (thanks Victoria) so it makes very little sense to even think about bringing them along, but they will be missed. I am going to wear them this week lots to try and make them not feel so bad about not making this trip with me. I took a photo of them this past christmas because I was thinking about how great it is to have shoes that "carry so many stories".

Sunday, August 31, 2008

we push and pull, i fall down sometimes, i'm not letting go, you hold the other line....

I changed my flickr screen name today. After 3 years of going by "fatal Cleopatra" (only 18th Century literature enthusiasts understand that one) I have changed it to "bri~".

Yes, I realize flickr is not a "reality"...most days...but it felt pretty momentous to change my name nonetheless. I'm still unsure if I'll stay with it. The thing is, its not just 'from here on in' that my name changes. It changes everything I've commented on retroactively. I feel like flickr has been pretty instrumental in my evolution as a photographer, and to have that journey changed feels...weird.

That being said, I took a photo at Darcel and Chris' wedding yesterday that I'm really proud of and love quite a bit. If you're reading this, you're probably one of two people - my sister or my mom - and so you've probably already looked at it, but if you're not either of those, go check it out. Because I like it lots. And I hope you will too.

(for those of you who care...mostly for web address stays the same on flickr despite my name change. you still type in to see my stuff)

Friday, August 29, 2008

swing like a wrecking ball, like the heart of god, what a mystery...

Today is quite possibly my last day of work (word is still out on whether or not I'll put in a few hours on Tuesday). I woke up this morning feeling strange that the last 5 months have gone by so fast. Everything is surprising to me this morning, like it has been sneaking up on me and suddenly has decided to hit me full in the face.
Suddenly my job is done.
Suddenly its still night when I wake up.
Suddenly my trip to Iceland is less than 2 weeks away.
Suddenly it is fall.
Suddenly my summer has slipped between my fingers with only a bike ride here and a trip to the waterslides there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

smoke baby smoke baby...

I used to think that spending too much time on my own would make me weird. Now I'm finding that not enough time on my own makes me kind of ordinary.

I've been so busy with work lately and photography projects and planning for Iceland and shooting weddings and more working and keeping up with friends and a little sleeping thrown in, that I haven't had much time to just spend an evening at home in my own head. At folk festival this weekend, I spent a lot of time jumping from friend to friend and visiting and trying to hit up all the artists shows I wanted to see. And then on Sunday morning, while sitting listening to Brett Dennen, Colin Hay and Martha Wainwright, I was looking at the program deciding where to go next and I took in this deep breath and realized what it was I actually wanted to do. What I love so much about folk fest. I laid back against the hill and closed my eyes and let the music just wash over me while I just felt the grass against my shoulders and the sun on my feet and just let myself sink into my surroundings. Being spread so thin this summer, I've forgotten that I need to find those spaces to root. To dig into the moment and just be there. I've been looking so forward to doing that everyday for two months in Iceland, that I've skipped so quickly and shallowly over the past few months that I've let most of my summer slip by me. Today marks one month before I'm waking up in Reykjavik and out of necessity to keep my sanity in the next few hectic weeks, and to make an attempt at taking back my summer, I plan - not to slow down - but to at least give a space for "rooting".

Tonight I chose to take a few moments to cook myself supper and write this blog and think about home. As I cooked, I could smell supper on the stove in Burdett. See my mom shuffle her feet to the music in her head, flipper in hand. Hear my dad coming through the garage door and stamp his boots on the concrete floor. I still heard my dog's collar rattle through the door as she shakes her head and lays down on the step, even though she died months ago. I opened my eyes and breathed in and felt settled. Which is good. I have much to do this week and I need to be able to breathe and think things through to manage everything that must be finished by the time the weekend rolls around.

Monday, July 14, 2008

every step that you take could be your biggest mistake...

Things cannot always stay as they are.

I hate that. I hate dealing with that. I love change, but I want change when I am ready for it. When I am eager for it. When it fits into my schedule, my plan.
But things cannot always stay as they are.

I want my friends to stay close to me. I don't want them to move away for school or spouses or careers. And I don't want to move away from their homes and gardens and mornings full of crepes and strawberries. I want them to be a 20 minute drive across town for tea.

I want to finish everyday with my hands dirty with the earth. I want to be tanned and strong and spend more time with the wind and sky and grass than with four walls and a ceiling.

I want to always be doing what I love. I never want to agree to take money in return for making myself do something I don't enjoy doing. I want to have pride in my work and know that it will benefit someone else too.

I want to live three lives. I want to drink wine in the late afternoon on my farmhouse porch in Edmonton, to walk to the Sugarbowl and sit on the High Level bridge to watch the sun go down. I want to be able to lift off and explore the world on a moment's whim, to see Germany and Borneo and Argentina . I want to dig my toes into the soil between rows of green wheat crops and listen to the gravel crunch beneath my feet as I walk down the driveway in Burdett.

I want to have enough of everything I need to sustain me. I want enough money and enough time and enough love and passion to know what to do with them and to use them well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

or the story goes...

I haven't been blogging lately. I've been working lots. But it is July now - probably my second favourite month of the year - and it deserves a post.

My mind has been running in overdrive lately. Never stopping long enough on one thought to let myself even realize what I'm processing. When I think about what I want to blog about, I can't find one cohesive thought to speak on. Instead, maybe snippets of moments from the past few weeks will suffice. I've been all over the map lately with moments of beauty and pain, and excitement and of bitter boredom and disappointment. The days have been blurring together lately, but there are a few sketches in time that stand out to me from the past weeks...

- Drinking beer with my friends until late in the evening and wandering into the fields behind my house, laying in the unbelievably soft green, young wheat and staring into the night sky.

- Stepping out of my work truck to see another park turn brown and crisp...watching the grass I take care of slowly shrivel and dry out.

- Standing in the quiet livingroom of a friend's house holding a Carol Sheilds book in my hands feeling an overwhelming compulsion to sit down and read it rather than join the voices I hear in the backyard enjoying a Canada Day bbq.

- Listening to fireworks ricochet between downtown buildings and river valley and watching the ash and smoke float between tree branches.

- Watching someone learn to back Karen's work truck and trailer into it's spot in preparation for her leaving for two weeks on Friday.

- Feeling my arms and back turning brown with heat and dirt and sweat and sun.

- Watching one of my friends learn to adjust to a new stage of life and fight against the pull to let freedom and independence become loneliness.

- Breathing in the smell of summer heat, sitting my porch, listening to Bon Iver, watching black birds against pink/blue evening sky.

from Carol Sheild's "Swann"...

"Some days Virginia Woolf is the only person in the universe I want to talk to; but she's dead, of course, and couldn't like me anyway."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

and in the end, we lie awake, and we dream of making our escape ...

tidbits from a life rarely expressed by blog lately...

Its sunday morning. I am laying in the tent, in my backyard, in my new amazing sleeping bag. Its been raining little bit by little bit for the past few hours. Big drops hitting the tarp in some irregular rhythm. I have the new Coldplay album on and the screen zipped down enough that its letting in nothing but the scent of rain. That smell mingling with the wood fire smoke and pipe smoke clinging to my clothes and hair (remnants of last night's summer solstice six hour bonfire party) is making the moment absolutely perfect.
Last night Dave brought his guitar and harmonica and diggeridoos and we sat around the fire eating and drinking and laughing and taking turns playing what we could on the diggeridoo - which for most of us, wasn't a whole lot. As the fire died down we all ended up laying on our backs in the grass, feet against the fire pit, watching the sky in silence.
On top of it all, I slept in my contacts. I've never done that before because I've always been too nervous to, but when I got these new contacts, my eye doctor said that I should have no problem sleeping in them for up to 7 nights in a row. Though I'm not sure I'll make a habit of it, I woke up and I was immediately able to see. I haven't had that since grade two.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I have seen your refractions and I did not recognize you...

things I would like the extol the virtues of today:

.Creamy Cucumber salad dressing

.wearing pants that smell of day old wood fire smoke

.asparagus steamed in lemon juice with butter and salt

.down sleeping bags

.trappist beer (

.the great lake swimmers

.hot chocolate with goldschlagger

.tiny birdhouses

.holes in the knee of my jeans

Friday, June 13, 2008


I am laying in the grass, watching the sun dip lower and lower as my fire slowly burns out. Last night it was nice and warm at this time, but the breeze has picked up tonight. I can feel my fingers getting a little stiff from the cold as I type and do up the buttons on my favourite plaid shirt to keep out the chill. I realize I haven't been thinking very much lately...well, for any substantial amount of time on one thing. I've been thinking about lots of things, but mostly when I'm driving to or from site listening with one ear to my crew chatting about...whatever, and one ear on the radio. I'm not working this weekend and I think I'll take that time to think. I think I'll try not to use my car this weekend. I'll walk or bike or bus. I think better when I'm doing those things. And I'll try and talk less. Only when I need to, and hopefully mostly to strangers.

This isn't to say that I have big things to think about, its just that I have a million little half-threads of thought that are floating in my mind just waiting to be picked up, needing to be picked up for my sanity. I need time and space to think.


I just spent the last 25 minutes standing in the middle of the road watching the sun set against the clouds. I was trying to decide whether or not to go check out the poster for the event on the farm tomorrow that was hanging on the fence. Trying to decide whether it was worth braving the wind that I was currently being protected from by the house. As soon as I stepped out from around the house on to the road I sucked in my breath and thought to myself 'there is nothing more beautiful than this'. The colour and the light of the sun stretching out the orange/pink/red clouds against that deep blue endless sky just blew me away. And the wind, oh I love the wind.
I thought to myself that if I had not decided to step out of the yard, to look around the house, I would have never seen it. Sure I would have seen it reflected on the grass and the trees, but not really seen it, experienced it. I think each time I see something that intensely beautiful, it becomes a defining moment in my life. It changes me ever so slightly and I carry it with me. Makes me wonder what other "houses" I'm standing behind that, though they may be protecting me from the 'wind', are standing between me and a defining moment for my soul. Cheesy metaphor? maybe, but I will think on that.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

while my guitar gently weeps...

I go to the city dump a few times a week. For my job, not as a hobby or anything. But I like it quite a bit. It always gets me thinking. There is so much waste and destruction of nature, but at the same time there is so much life. There's the usual sod strips and household garbage and such. But then there are also ripped teddybears and old sofas and shelves and stoves and clothes. There are all these remnants of life.

On one of my last trips, I was unloading my dump truck and there beside me was a tricycle. On the very top of this pile of discarded life things, was this perfect, red trike. It was in excellent condition, all wrapped up in a clear plastic bag to keep it clean. It was a "mercury" - so old school - and it was beautiful. As I finished up with the tarp on my truck I kept on looking at it and thinking about it and wondering why it was there and who it had belonged to. I decided I couldn't leave it there. It was so sad and so perfect and so old, too old to leave under all that rubble of life. So I pulled open the doors of my truck and threw it in. I brought it home, took it out of the the bag, cleaned it off and its now sitting in my garage.

I want to photograph it. But I want to photograph it back at the dump. This week I think I'll ask the landfill guys if they don't mind me coming back with it for a quick shoot in the near future.

I asked Jamie if she knew of any family at the mustard seed who could make use of it, so I think once I'm done shining it up and taking its photo, I'll bring it there for someone else to give it new life.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

till i can gain control again...

I didn't plan on it. I'm not even sure I would have liked the idea if it was posed to me, but somehow or another, this afternoon I found myself strolling down Whyte Ave in the pouring rain.

I stopped at the bank on the far west side of Whyte and then decided to make my way east. I managed to hit that peak moment where the rain picked up from its constant drizzle and became a full out pour. About half a block in I reconsidered. It wasn't cold, but it was a little chilly. People were rushing past me with umbrellas and raincoats with the hood up and I was wearing nothing more than jeans and a wool sweater. But, if you're gonna get wet....

So I kept on. And before I knew it, I was grinning and laughing and waving at people in restaurant windows who were pointing and smiling. A few blocks in, I stumbled upon a man asking for change, huddled between the overhang of two buildings. (Nothing unusual about that on Whyte ave) He had on a jacket and jeans and old black runners that let the puddles pour in through the rips and tears. He was grinning at me and said "how's your day sunshine?" I smiled back and stopped to chat for a little while. We talked about the beauty of the rain and the way people with umbrellas rush to get out of it while people who had no shelter - people like US - reveled in it. The way he said it took me by surprise a little. Looking down the street, I suddenly I felt more connected to this man hunched over with his hat out in his hand than I did to those shoppers scurrying under awnings and shaking their umbrellas out. I was sharing my day, my rain, my joy with him and when I looked back at him we both grinned and knew it.

Before I left home I had stuffed all my extra toonies and loonies lying around my room into my pocket for some unknown reason. I usually don't walk around with 5 pounds of change in my jeans, but today I did. He never asked me for money but before I walked away, I dug my hand into my pocket and poured whatever I had into his hat. He just looked down and laughed as I skipped away back into the deluge.

*I know, giving change to people who are begging on the street doesn't solve any problems. Many people I know complain about how its probably just supporting a drug/alcohol habit and it would be much more effective to donate to a street ministry or buy food/coffee/clothes/etc for the person. And while I understand this point of view, I think sometimes that it doesn't matter and its more important to connect. I shared my afternoon in the rain with him, my change is a far smaller gift.*

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

next thing i know she's watching me writing to her in the snow...

I dedicate this blog to words I like the sound of. These are some of them...











lift (only when the "t" is articulated)




*i'm not stopping here because that is all i got, i have many more*

This section will single out words I would never dedicate a blog post to because they sound horrible.






schedule. (particularly when pronounced "shed-ual")

mature. (likewise, when pronounced "ma-tuure"..but "mat-chure" is also grating)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

need to know if you're letting go...

Tonight I began another book on my list of works to reread.

'For Me and My House' by Sinclair Ross. I read it in my 2005 Canadian Lit course and something about this dark, rainy day made me think that it was a good choice when I stood in front of my bookshelf. I've found a few underlined passages from my 2005 read, and have decided this time around, to label each newly underlined passage with the year. It is strange to see what stands out to me now, only 3 years later. Here are a few excerpts - taken completely out of context - that have caught my eye thus far:

"what he is and what he nearly was - the failure, the compromise, the going-on - it's all there - the discrepancy between the man and the little niche that holds him."

"To have him notice, speak to me as if I really mattered in his life, after twelve years with him that's all I want or need. It arranges my world for me, strengthens and quickens it, makes it immuve to all other worlds."

"These...threaten to be the scaffolding of his life."

"In the car Paul said thoughtfully that that was the worst penalty inflicted by education, the way it separates you from the people who are really closest to you, among whom you would otherwise belong. Himself now, a ranch boy with a little schooling, he fits in nowhere."

Find my original list here:

Monday, May 5, 2008

streets were made for horse and cart...

Its 5:51am. I am layig in bed, my computer on my chest moving in time with my breathing. I close my eyes and try to forget that the world is waiting for me again today. Curling up under the warm weight of my laptop, warm between duvet and down pillows, I have slept a full night's sleep, but I feel like I could still do more. Instead I let Angus and Julia Stone sing me awake and I stretch out my arms. The last words of the book I finished yesterday echo through my head:

"Go and get your things," he said. "Dreams mean work."

*on a complete side note: my arms, shoulders and face are just starting to be tanned from the few nice days we had last week and when I shuffle past the bathroom mirror in my tanktop, it makes me smile to see the outdoors reflected on me already*

Sunday, April 27, 2008

when your eyes are all painted Sinatra blue...

This morning I woke up and realized that I have the house to myself this week. With Bethany and Joel gone to San Francisco, it will be very quiet here the next few days. Not only that, I sent my computer in to be fixed this week so I don't have my usual companion around either. I was feeling a bit unsettled about it all, but when I woke up this morning, I started to think about what I would all do and I came up with...pretty much anything I want to. I think today I would like to spend the whole day at home: doing laundry, frying bacon, baking cookies for my lunches this week, listening to music, reading a book or two, drinking tea. I think it will be a good day.

On a totally unrelated note...or maybe not. I have been thinking about seeing all of Canada lately. I absolutely love that I am a Canadian and, in particular, a western Canadian, but there is so much more of this country I haven't seen or experienced. I feel like if I were born as any other nationality, I would have Canada as the number one country I'd like to visit. I have a vision for this Canadian experience. I have recently fallen in love with Via Rail and I think I'd like to fly out to Victoria and then take the train all the way to Halifax. I am going to pack my camera and laptop of course, but other than that I only want a backpack with a few changes of clothes and a bag full of books. I want to watch the country move past my window like a stream of consciousness narrative. I want to listen to music and make playlists for each province and write about them. Write about the people I meet, the things I see and the way in which I experience them. I want to take photos of these things so that I can express what my words lack.
I can think of a few people who I would love to make this trip with, but I also think I might experience it just as well on my own (of course calling to check in regularly , Mom). I usually am not a big fan of traveling alone. I get lost inside my own head pretty easily and I fear if I were to experience too long of a time by myself I would re-emerge into society a very strange person. I also think that, as it says in "Into the Wild"...Happiness is only real when it is shared. An experience of beauty on your own is nice, but when you can share it with someone else, it takes on a life of its own. However, I think on parts of this trip it would be important for me to just be on my own and listen to myself. Anais Nin says "We don't see things as they are, we see them as WE are". I have discovered that most of my travels consist of 25% discovering this amazing world I live in and 75% discovering who I am and my place within this amazing world. I think its time to embrace that and recognize it and document it with that kind of awareness, perhaps for no other purpose than my own understanding.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

one more kiss tonight from some tall stable girl, she's like grace from the earth...

I am snowed in again. Day two of waking up at 6:20am to see the snow flying and realize that work is an impossibility. Yesterday the time off was nice. I lounged on the couch, watched movies and wrote letters. Today I'm feeling more agitated. Not necessarily because I have today off work, but because I can see there will be a few more days of this ahead. Guess I picked a bad time to start landscaping.

To keep my mind off things and make sure I enjoy this freedom (which I will no doubt make up for when it warms up) I spent the morning taking a walk, frying bacon, sipping tea and reading my old blog posts. When I got back from Bangladesh, my sister made a binder for me full of all my blog posts and emails to her during my months there. It was one of the most brilliant things I have ever received. I love reading through it and thinking about everything I was going through back then.
So, today I started back a few months and began reading my own thoughts and adventures. Its a strange things to read through your past through your own eyes. It exposes certain themes that you never even realized were themes in your life and shows how they are evolving and moving and changing you.

I was pretty resistant to blogs pre-Bangladesh, but I've come to love mine an awful lot. Not because I want everyone in my life to know whats going on in my head, but mostly so that I have it for myself. To chronicle the things I love, the places I've seen, the thoughts I've experienced, the person I was and am and who I'm becoming.

Every new post, the quote from Jennifer Hecht on my blog profile becomes more and more true: "I think I’m always writing in part to speak widely, to society or to history, and in part to speak privately: I’m just writing to myself, reminding myself of things."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

turn a mountain of lies, turn a card for my life....

I would like to dedicate this blog posting to Spolumbo's fine foods and deli sausages.

This story starts somewhere around 11 months ago when I first started working landscape maintenance in Edmonton's many overgrown subdivisions. Some subdivisions are well established and have little shopping centres full of Sobeys/Safeway/Save-On, DQ, McDonald's, Taco del Mar, Tim Hortons, etc. However, some of the newer ones don't have much more than a gas station. It was in the subdivision of Parkland that my idea of convenience store hot dogs was transformed. Last summer, all Parkland had in it, as far as shopping, was a Husky gas station. But let me tell you, it was a deluxe Husky. It was about 9am one fateful morning that I strolled into that store looking for a bathroom, and found instead a rolling grill full of hot dogs. Being the meat lover that I am, I decided that maybe 9am is a good time for a hot dog and made myself up a bun. And you should have seen the available condiments...banana peppers, saurkraut, fresh cut onions, etc. (and this was before 7-11 started beefing up their condiment stashes). Well, I bit into this hotdog and it revolutionized my life. I felt it was my duty to share this with my crew so we came into the habit of having a 9am Parkland Husky hot dog break. Obviously word had gotten out about these pieces of heaven because if you got there much later than 12, all the hot dogs would be gone.

One day on our break, I was standing in line for a hot dog with this older man (yes, there was a lie up for these hot dogs) and since I had noticed him there before I made some sort of comment about how everyone seems to come for the hot dogs. At this point I put down eveything he was doing, stared me in the face and in the most intense, seriousness said "These, are Spolumbo's." He then went on to tell me that he came everyday from the northeast end of the city where he works (at least a 45 minute drive) to this Husky to have his Spolumbo's sausage.

Well, ever since, karen and I have been spreading the Spolumbo's gospel. We tell everyone we know that going to the Parkland Husky to have a hot dog will change their lives in ways they could never imagine. So you can imagine our excitement when we returned to Parkland this week to do some work with our new crew. We ran into the Husky in great expectation, only to find the clerk filling the rolling grill with frozen "Fletcher's" hot dogs and the only condiments to be seen were ketchup and mustard. You can imagine our disappointment. It was a small tragedy. When we called the clerk to task about it, she said they quit because the construction workers would load up their hot dogs with all the condiments and leave none for anyone else and make a giant mess on the counter.

Of all the soul-killing moments I experience working in subdivisions, I feel this moment is in the top 3.

Goodbye Spolumbo's sausage. You will be missed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

and a bike wheel spinning on a pawn shop wall...

There are moments when I am overwhelmed with the feeling that I am wholly and utterly normal. And not necessarily in the "thank goodness I'm normal!" way and not quite in the "there is nothing special about me, I'm so normal" way either. Somewhere sort of in the middle, in a way that just makes me feel really human. I've been landscaping for the past few days which always has a way of reminding me that there are very different people existing in the world. I have a tendency to live in a "bri-centric" world most of the time, and landscaping always seems to shake that to its core and make me realize that I'm not so unique as I a very humbling way. Today as I was trying to work together/direct 9 crew members in ridiculous weather conditions to get done relatively futile work, I was struck - one again - with the thought that I am not the only one on my crew who would like to be considered as unique and interesting and important, and, in fact, it is a pretty 'normal' universal desire. It makes me think of a Hafiz poem and a fantastic CS Lewis quote...

With That Moon Language -Hafiz

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."
Of course you do not do this out loud,
otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still, though,
think about this,
this great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye
that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world
is dying to hear?


"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit." -CS Lewis, from The Weight of Glory

Monday, April 7, 2008

you say that the indigo shines deep inside my eyes...

I have been thinking lots about "home" since I got home, but I'm not ready to write something about that now, so that will have to be saved for a different day.

Anyway, I had a surprise extra day at my sister's house today and wound up spending most of my day with my 5 year old nephew. This morning, there was a whirlwind of activity: my niece to the school bus, my sister taking my other sister and son to the airport and so suddenly at 9 am, just Jerett and myself were left in the house. We decided to go take photos around town, go for steamers at the local coffeehouse, drive to some fields just out of town to photograph the mountains, 'catch some gophers' (which mostly just made us look like idiots running in a field), have a snack picnic in the playground and playing (which I actually really got into and plan to play later again once I'm home..i recommend "pickle pop" in the playground section) for the rest of the morning after he fell backwards off a swing.

Spending a good portion of my day with my favourite five year old boy was a really fantastic way to start my week. Most of the things that came out of his mouth today made me stop and say to myself "you have to remember this". I hope I will.

I have had a lot of moments this weekend where my soul feels like its so much bigger than my body. That it gets stretched beyond its capacity and right before I feel like I'm going to crack, it breaks open and suddenly I am not just me, but a part of something bigger. Not only that, not just a piece of something bigger, but so intertwined, so enmeshed in it that feel as though I am simply part of the infinite. (I don't know why I chose to use the term "the infinite", it just came to me, so please don't ask me to explain) It has been a beautiful few days though.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

when every happy plot, ends with a marriage knot...

I have been rightly chastised by beth to write a new blog post, so I am.

I've been thinking lately about rich and poor. Not in a giant mansion versus homeless beggar, kind of way necessarily, but in a bit of a more personal way. I've decided to do landscaping again this summer, and though at first I had a bit of anxiety about joining up with a company I'm not sure I 100% want to be associated with, I am really looking forward to it. The other day, at work a guy sat down at the bar for a drink and started whining to me about his job (bartending somewhere else) and ended saying "well, its way better than working manual labour for that kind of money" and the very first thing I thought was "Not its not!", so I felt very validated in my choice of summer work. That being said, working landscaping has been the most financially friendly thing I've done. The hours and the wage work out to be pretty nice on my bank account, which is a good thing since I've been pretty lousy to my bank account lately!
The thing is, I have this feeling that I think I'd be really good at being rich. Not in a "I want lots of wealth" kind of way, but I think that if I came into a windfall of money, I would handle it well. Of course it would change the way I think about things, but it would be mostly in good ways. In generous ways. In respectful, thoughtful ways. It wasn't until this week though that I started thinking about why that is. And what I came up with, is that I am also really good at being poor. Though I am under no impression that I am in any way "poor", but I almost enjoy the way my years of being a student and my summers of volunteering and now my flitting from job to job in search of something I really love has taught me to live from paycheque to paycheque frugally without restricting my lifestyle too much. In other words, I have learned how to watch my money without being cheap about it. And though I understand the importance of saving up money for whatever the future may hold, I also know that this is the time in my life where I only have to worry about me in a lot of ways. If I have food and a place to live and an outdoors to appreciate and friends to share it with, I really don't have to worry about much more. I have not only learned how to deal with my kind of "poor" well, but I have fallen in love with it. Living this way has taught me things I'm not sure I would have been able to understand any other way.
..Rather than going to the movies or some other costly activity, I choose to walk around the city and in the river valley. And during these walks that I have found that I am ridiculously passionate about the nature that surrounds me and the people I share this city with. Which in turn leads to an involvement in issues of environmental consciousness and social justice.
..Rather than driving to the grocery store for bread/cake/granola, I often chose to make it myself from ingredients I have in my house. While I sit kneading bread and peeling apples and mixing rolled oats, I learn the importance of time and supporting of local agriculture.
..I watch the birds outside my window and listen to music and dance alone in the kitchen while I wait for the cake to rise in the oven and I learn what it is to understand myself. The crucial importance of listening to me and discovering more about who I am.

No, I would not trade my lifestyle for anyone else's in the world right now.

Soon regular schedules of landscaping and long hours of fantastic "manual labour" will fill my days with busyness and excitement, so I will savour these moments of lingering winter stillness while I can.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

what honest words she can't afford to say...

I am learning that things that move slowly are usually the most important and, as Mary Oliver puts it, "most things that are important, have you noticed, lack a certain neatness" - like the way winter moves into spring...but i want to say something more on the idea of slowness today.
I was always raised with this ideal of efficiency and the idea that it is important to get things done to the very best of your abilities, in the smallest amount of time necessary to do so. And though I still think that this is a pretty good thing in many situations, I have been really enjoying questioning that in small ways: Standing at the window watching the birds make tracks in the snow while the kettle boils rather than folding my laundry while I wait. Walking past my car to take city transit. Dancing to a Billie Holiday by myself in the kitchen while my supper cooks. Walking to the mailbox at the end of the street, picking up and examining interesting pebbles and rocks along the way.
I am in a strange place in life right now where I find myself floating between periods of excessive freedom with my time followed by short moments of rushing, busy work. And on the horizon, I can see a regular schedule and considerable busy-ness approaching with spring and landscaping nudging ever closer and so I feel as though I must make the most of the time I have left in this unusual lifestyle. And I've found that my soul finds its time best spent sipping tea in front of windows, bumping into strangers on the bus, swimming in jazz when dusk is just turning to night, sharing a pint of Guinness in cozy dark pubs in the early afternoon, baking cakes from scratch, letting the dough squeeze through my fingers and devour my hands and reading poetry aloud while laying in the middle of the kitchen floor.

I intend not to "step so quickly over this sacred place on God's body that is right beneath your own foot, as I dance with precious life today" (Hafiz).

Friday, March 14, 2008

there's no better journey than me on my way to you...

The Beautiful, Striped Sparrow

in the afternoons,
in the almost empty fields,
i hum the hymns
i used to sing

in church.
they could not tame me,
so they would not keep me,

and how that feels,
the weight of it,
i will not tell
any of you,

not ever.
still, as they promised,
God, once he is in your heart,
is everywhere -

so even here
among the weeds
and the brisk trees.
how long does it take

to hum a hymn? strolling
one or two acres
of the sweetness
of the world,

not counting
a lapse, now and again,
of sheer emptiness.
once a deer

stood quietly at my side.
and sometimes the wind
has touched my cheek
like a spirit.

am i lonely?
the beautiful, striped sparrow,
serenely, on the tallest weed in his kingdom,
also sings without words.

- Mary Oliver

Monday, March 10, 2008

knock me over, stone cold sober...

I have been keeping a point form list of things to blog about, and it has reached the point where I have to do something about it. Actually it probably reached that point a little while ago, but I haven't found the inspiration to put it into words so this morning I will be going in a type of point form mode of things this week that made me want to blog...

Lemonade: I've been in a fresh squeezed lemonade mode lately. So far I have gone through a dozen lemons. Bethany has these really great tall straight glasses that are the perfect lemonade glasses and so the whole experience is really quite fantastic. I've been playing around with the portions and have found that its my favourite if you add a little SoCo and peach schnapps. I think that will be my new "signature drink". SO good.

Also, I had a craving yesterday for cake with apples in it. So I went to the store and bought the cheapest apples in the place, took a base cake/load recipe, added flavours and sugars I thought would go well and ended up with a pretty good maple vanilla apple cake with a vanilla brown sugar topping. Its nice and light because it doesn't have a lot of flavour, but sort of just... hints of a flavour. I like it.

In Bethany's desire to spraypaint anything she can get her hands on, we now have a new life brought into our magnetic board in the kitchen. Yesterday we spent some time putting all of her fridge magnet poetry words on it. Our friend Dave is the best fridge poet we have ever met....seriously, this guy is GOOD! He comes home from Africa next week and I hope he makes a good poem on our board when he visits.

Karen gave me a David Gray cd (among other things) for my birthday and I have been listening to it pretty much non-stop. It has helped that Beth is completely addicted to it too. Its a "best of" album and in the liner notes, Gray talks about each song and sort of gives a little story about it or how it was written or how it was recorded. I love the song "Be Mine" but he apparently hates it. He hasn't played it live for over 5 years now and says its one of his least favourites. I always think its so interesting to see what pieces artists like compared to what the general public loves.

In other news, my birds have filled the top birdhouse so full of sticks and grass and leaves that they are sticking out of every crack. AND, yesterday when I went out to put crumbs in the feeder, they stayed in the tree flitting around, watching me, until I was finished, which means they're getting used to me. I'm excited about them and seeing them building in my yard makes me ridiculously happy.

there is more to talk about I'm sure, but I did justice to none of the above topics so I will quit here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

girl, you make me want to feel...

It is already Thursday?! How has the week gone by this fast? I don't know. What I do know is that this week has been crammed full of passionate ideas that I cannot put out of my head. I don't know if I can make sense of all these ideas here but I will try to direct you to them in ways that will help you decide about them for yourself...

First of all, I watched one of the BBC's 2006 Planet Earth series yesterday. It as stunning. I can't believe how incredible the world we live in can be. You can read about them here ( and then immediately be won over by them and buy the set here ( I can't really say one thing about them that amazed me because it is all so awesome, but I saw the first dvd, and on it, there are these migration scenes of elephants/buffalo/impala, etc. in Africa's dry season. It was so stunning that I couldn't hardly speak or swallow or blink while I watched it. Check them out if you get the chance.

Last night I went to hear Cal DeWitt speak. I've heard great things about his books, though I haven't read them myself - something I plan to soon remedy. You can find them here ( if you want to beat me to it. He spoke on climate change and presented much of the same evidence and disturbing trends we've seen in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" environmental documentary, but rather than using scare tactics and playing on fear for the future, he delivered his message with amazing hope and joy. I could write so much about what he said but there are two thoughts that have really been swirling around my mind today. First of all, he talked about how to react to these overwhelming, disturbing trends we are seeing in climate change. In one example, he said we should look to the Netherlands as an example. He said that the ocean is rising. This is a fact we all know. What did the Dutch do?? They raised the dikes. They didn't sit around discussing whether it was our fault or a cyclical process or even worse, ignore the fact that the water is rising....they raised the dikes. He went on to use this metaphor as a way to really break down the overwhelming paralysis we are seeing in the face of climate change in a very beautiful lecture. The way he ended it though, really got to me. After giving such a heavy topic a very light perspective, he said, "we will lose species, we will have millions of environmental refugees, we will cause irreparable damage to this world and will forever change to course of our climate, but it will still be a magnificent world and it will not lose its awesome beauty." (i don't want to say i'm quoting him directly, but he did say all these things and fairly close together! haha) He ended by challenging us to live joyfully and full of awe in the face of this changing earth and to mobilize our own lives to make the changes we need to slow this curve of destruction. And, to most importantly, bring the children into nature so that they will love it because, he said, legalism cannot make any headway against these trends. What we need is the passion that comes from defending something we desperately love.
If you have a chance to hear him speak, take it. Also, I think that if you are at all interested in the environment, creation, land, beauty, religion or humanity, you should set out to read his books.

Also, I received the Jan and Feb issues of the National Geographic in my mailbox today and one of them made short mention of these "emerging explorers-tomorrow's storytellers". They're Canadian (from Vancouver) and run this website community called Though I haven't had a significant amount of time to look at all their projects, these two guys Sol and Joshua have made a television series with the same name..."4REAL". The television show, 4REAL, is a series of half-hour episodes hosted by Sol Guy that takes celebrity guests (musicians, models, actors, etc.) on adventures around the world to connect with young leaders who, under extreme circumstances, are affecting real change on some of the most pressing issues of our time. It looks amazing and the way in which they are using art and culture to bring awareness to the triumphs of young leaders in these places is groundbreaking. Anyway, this week, the series airs on CTV. Everyone I know gets CTV and so if you have the chance, you should watch a few of these episode and let me know what you think...I will be watching them as well. The Alberta CTV schedule for these shows can be found at the top of the page here ( Each of the four episodes they're airing this week will be aired twice, so if you miss it once, check again the next showing.

This week is far from over and I can't wait to see what else will come up, but tonight I am going to a "travel talk" at the local Travel Shop about backpacking around Europe because, over the past few months, Iceland has gone from being a fairly non-existent place in my world to a place of interest to feeling as though it is in my very bloodstream and I am deciding that I have to do something about that.

on a final note...thanks for reading this far, I usually try and keep my blog posts shorter than this, but I also hope you follow some of those links. They're worth your while.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

you were my sweetest downfall...

I've been reading The Great Gatsby in bits lately and today I came across this line:

"In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

I want to photograph that.

That exact idea..."moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars"

I have to go to work now, so I cannot write more, but I will soon. Probably tonight. I realize I've been neglecting a good blog post lately, so I will get on that.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

amongst the crowd a heart will break and a heart will mend...

I am here! Still here. Despite the craziness of this week and my lack of blogging, I am taking a breathing break to spend some time to put into words some jumbled thoughts from this week. At the moment, I am sitting on my bed, with every movement of my body sending out whiffs of beer. My co-worker put Big Brother on the TVs at work tonight and so, half of the last just of keiths red I poured ended up all over me because I was watching the veto competition instead of the tilt of the spout. great.

That being said, I am overwhelmed with exhaustion and so I will point form some things I have been thinking about and leave them to perhaps expound upon later...

- "You are not our little closet secret anymore" -Jamie at my photography opening

- Angus and Julia Stone are my new favourite musical artists

- What would your parents have been like had they led different lives?

- I really love poetry

- I think I could do great post graduate work in sociology on reality television shows

- 10 years is a very small block of time, but in the next ten years, my life will most likely be drastically changed

- post script to the one above...I want to be able to say that every 10 years

- Bodies need sleep

Monday, February 25, 2008

wind in my hair, I feel part of everywhere...

Things I've seen, experienced and appreciated on my 23 birthday...

Eating breakfast with an El Salvadorian family and happily surprising myself with my ability to understand exactly what they were talking about most of the time.

A kind taxi driver with a huge salt and pepper beard and a old corduroy cap advertising a backwoods grill in Oyster Bay.

A man taking his two young kids to the beach for the day on the train, sharing bits and bites snacks while telling them about all the different animals and birds that could be at the beach today.

An old native woman standing before a raging bonfire in the woods, grinning and waving at the train.

An elderly couple walking through airport security together holding hands. When the man went through the woman continued to walk beside him on the other side of the glass until he had found a spot to sit and wait for his flight. She put her hand against the window and said she loved him and to remember that the keys were in his pocket before he blew her a kiss and she walked back to the car.

A road sign that proudly announced "Welcome to Comox...Expect Deer on our Roads!"

Listening to Sufjan Stevens, Eddie Vedder and Broken Social Scene as I sped along tracks cut so narrowly through the coastal forest that evergreen branches reached out and ran along the glass.

Watching other people, people watch when they think no one else is looking.

....As I am not yet home, I'm sure I will have more but I may save them for my next post...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

when there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire...

The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody'd move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole, with their pretty antlers and their pretty, skinny legs, and that squaw with the naked bosom would still be weaving that same blanket. Nobody'd be different. They only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you'd be so much older or anything. It wouldn't be that, exactly. You'd just be different, that's all. You'd have an overcoat on this time. Or the kid that was your partner in line last time had got scarlet fever and you'd have a new partner. Or you'd have a substitute taking the class, instead of Miss Aigletinger. Or you'd heard your mother and father having a terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you'd just passed by one of those puddles in the street with gasoline rainbows in them. I mean you'd be different in some way - I can't explain what I mean. And even if I could, I'm not sure I'd feel like it.

- JD Salinger, "The Catcher in the Rye"