Monday, December 20, 2010

I'll taste the devil's tears, drink from his soul, but I'll never give up you....

Christmas is in 5 days. I can't believe it. The time has gone by so fast...and that was the point of this job I took this make the time that Patrick and I would be apart, go by fast. But coming to the edge of Christmas and the new year, it looks as though another long stretch of separation is ahead of us again. Tonight is the winter solstice. The longest night of the year. That means it's all uphill from here on in, right?

I'm listening to Angus and Julia Stone right now, my feet on the register under the desk, wearing one of Patrick's old hoodies covered in paint spots and fraying at the sleeves. The plant beside me continues to die despite my best efforts to bring it back...too much water? too little water? too cold? too warm? It never seems to make a difference. Maybe I'm exaggerating when I say dying. It's just not thriving. The leaves are still strong and wide...tropical looking really...but brown and yellow spots have started to appear on them. They're drying up an edge or a patch here and there, but it continues to grow. It's okay, but it's not as good as it could be.

I'm taking tomorrow off work, which is probably a good thing because other than meeting for 15 minutes with one prospective student today, I spent most of the day doing non-essential tasks. Well, more than non-essential...non-work really. I do enjoy the office on days like this though. Wanda, Diana and I spend hours watching YouTube videos and reading pages and pages of DamnYouAutoCorrect. My greatest accomplishment today was taking my pants off in the middle of the office...which has a story behind it, but not one I feel like sharing at the moment. Suffice it to say that I am the epitome of office professionalism.

Well, I feel like I'm not saying anything and since I have two loads of what seems like never-ending laundry waiting to be folded or hung up or stuffed in a drawer, I guess I should be done with this post. However, before I go I would like to leave you with a song. I've come into some new music lately and I'm loving a lot of it, but at the moment this song in particular is absolutely blowing my mind. Peter Gabriel covers The Arcade Fire's "My Body is a Cage". It's kinda long but put it on, turn up the speakers and do nothing but listen to it for the next 6 me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bri, these are things you should remember...

So it's December and I haven't posted in months. But in my defense, I have been busy. I've seen a lot of this gorgeous country in the past few weeks and I think I'd like to write up a little of what I like best about each place I've been. And this is more for myself when I am thinking back on the past 6 weeks of whirlwind traveling I've been doing....(and there's probably more I'm already forgetting about)

Niagara: the fantastic signs on the railings demonstrating that you should not climb over them and into the falls. And the cute little Italian restaurant I found on a side street made a decent pasta for a good price.

Ottawa: the adorable old french farmers that set up in Byward Market to sell their apples and veggies and berries and squash despite it being really very cold. Also going for drinks with Lisa was really nice. I like seeing people you haven't seen in years and remembering why and how much you like them.

Toronto: the Gladstone Hotel. And Shanghi Cowgirl. And Queen St West. And seeing OCAD. And the sushi....... and so much more

Rural Ontario: most of my driving in Ontario involved intentionally taking back roads and side roads and roads that ended up to be dead ends in swamps and forest. I love that. I love seeing the lift locks and the "corners" at every intersection and the just barely still fall colours.

The Kerby's: Two years before I left Toronto before Patrick's parents came to visit for the weekend. My fear of meeting them was the only reason I left. This year I found myself spending a couple days with them without Patrick....and it was wonderful! I feel like I got to know them better for who they are as individuals, not just who they are in relation to Patrick. It was important. And good. Very good. I also spent a morning with Patrick's aunt (and cousins) up the road and that's something I've always wanted to do...but with 6 kids running around it's not always so easy to get into a good conversation with her. I'm glad I got to. I really love that whole extended family and I'm so glad I'm marrying into it. It's nice to know that I'll legally be "one of them" soon!

London:I hung out with Carmen and Rhys and it was wonderful. I like them very much. Because it was raining, Carmen and I spent most of a day lounging in my hotel room watching nothing tv and drinking wine and swimming. Also, that place we went where the pub was a house....that was good. Need to remember that name...

Peace River: the drive through Slave Lake and High Prairie to Peace River is beautiful. The trees, just newly bare, the fields full of bales and stubble and all the old abandoned houses stole my heart. I love it. I'm gonna drive it again for fun in the spring and this time, I'm taking my camera!

Calgary: The Wild Rose Brewery was fantastic. Went back twice because I liked it so much. Need to remember this and stop at it for lunch on my way through more often!

Vancouver: Hailey is another good friend that I hadn't seen in a while and got to see her life in Vancouver, meet her boyfriend Jon and remember why and how much I like her. I also really liked the Alibi Room when I went there for supper with Trixie. Definitely a place I'd like to go back to. I need to write that down somewhere so I remember it the next time I find myself in Vancouver.

Victoria: Staying at the Empress. Yessssss! $16 cocktails in the Bengal Lounge. Valet and porter service...walking around the inner harbour at night with no particular place to be. Beautiful! In particular I really liked "The Patch" where I bought some awesome new wood earrings, I liked "The Bard and Banker Pub" which has a really cool layout and a good "2-mile" beer taster and my encounter with Capt. Paddy and his pirate ship are among the best things about my trip. Also, the jacket I liked and tried on 3 separate times but made the responsible decision to leave it for someone else to love.

HWY 1 to Nanaimo: through forest to the edge of the ocean and back again, I loved this drive. I drive a lot on this trip and this 2 hour jaunt was one of my favourites.

Smithers: First of all, the butcher shop has the best venison and cranberry sausage. LOVE IT! Gonna try to pick up more today. Also, the Alpenhorn has better food than any restaurant I've been at west of Toronto....and I've been to a lot of restaurants west of Toronto in the past few weeks. My adventure hiking up to Twin Falls was pretty awesome too. Too bad I never made it. Guess I'll have to come back when the road is open sometime.

Kitimat: Seeing family I haven't seen in ages! Around the town, the Native Village was probably my favourite. Also, reading stories to nephews and a niece before bed was a favourite too.

Have two more days yet, but in 'heading home' mode already. I love seeing the country, but also can't wait for my own bed.

In general, things I have learned from my travels:

- Holiday Inn Express is a fantastic hotel.
- Four Points are also good but usually older....however they always have a restaurant attached and often have local craft beer on tap.
- Brewery's tap rooms are wonderful places....and some have excellent food....especially the small ones.
- Seafood is much better on the coast.
- ask for, airlines, rental cars, etc. You usually get them.
- Rent a vehicle with heated seats in the winter....and if you can, automatic start.
- Take a little bit of time, a drive around town or a minute or two of research before you choose a place to eat. There could be something really great around the next corner.
- Always bring a book...hard cover if you care about it, paperback if your luggage is already overweight.
- Use the work out rooms and hot tubs at hotels!
- Always start a conversation with the person standing in line next to you (you do a lot of waiting when you travel)...everyone has interesting stories and if you're lucky, you meet some really great people.
- Know that you made the right decision not to go have supper on a pirate ship by yourself, but let yourself feel sorry that you didn't.
- Never watch scary movies or intense crime drama when staying in motor inns by yourself.
- Always sit at the bar. Talk to the bartender, find out what places they like best in town. They know best.
- Try local beers, then go see the breweries you liked.
- Dress in layers. Always. Wherever you go.
- Eat when you're hungry...not when the clock says you should.
- Take snacks.
- 9 times out of 10, the history channel has the best programming. Why watch anything else?

and finally....
- use your camera! Take it EVERYWHERE!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

you who are my home...

It's just starting to get light out. I'm already dressed and packed for work and finishing some toast while I look out the window of my livingroom. There's a difference in the morning air this week. By the time 5pm rolls around and this sun is making everything golden, it still feels as though summer is hanging on, but in the morning, winter is close by. I like the kind of blues that this weather and temperature put into the sky though. It's gorgeous.
This week is full of big dreams and ideas and decisions and my emotions have been all over the map. Mostly I feel young and small and not ready to make the decisions we need to. But in this moment, when the air is cold and the trees are bare and the sky is that blue with just the beginnings of pinks and reds on the nearly invisible clouds, I feel okay. I feel like I can breathe.

Monday, September 27, 2010

lights go off around you like some, photograph...

It's 7:30pm and the temperature outside is absolutely perfect. I'm sitting on the back porch drinking beer that was a gift from a friend, listening to Blue Rodeo and watching our cat Henk jump on the yellow leaves that are punctuating the still very green grass. The heavy frost last week took care of most the bugs that would still be out and so the perfectness of this night is not lost to any buzzing or swatting. It's quiet out, only a few vehicles coming past and the strings of Blue Rodeo's "What Is This Love" are filling the space between the porch steps and the tree branches that arch over the roof and reach past the fence. I'm sitting in a t-shirt and shorts and the weather is just right where I'm not cold or too hot. Jodi finished work and came to sit out with me. I like living with my cousin. She's really full of energy and life and I like her being around. A few years ago she did the same job with King's that I do now. In some ways I think she was better at it than I am. Jodi gets people excited about things, and I am more apt to make people think about things than get them excited. Maybe we should have done the job together. Well, I only have about 4000 photos to work through so I should stop sitting around on the porch spilling stream of consciousness onto this blog and get back to work. I just am hesitant to let this moment end... . . . . . . .

Sunday, September 26, 2010

that's when i miss you...

can't get enough of this song.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

do you care if I stayed.....

I've really started to love biking. My car has been out of commission all week and its probably the best thing that's happened to me lately because I've discovered that I LOVE biking. Last night I biked to Whyte to meet Sarah Choi for a pint and as I rode through quaint residential neighbourhoods and messy back alleys the sun kept angling lower and lower until I pulled into the last back alley just south of Whyte. There were puddles in the pot holes and the sun shone straight along the brick walls and the streamers from the car dealership were shimmering and whispering in the wind and I cruised towards the sun with the slow shwipp-shwipp-shwipp sound that my chain makes following my shadow across the rutted pavement. It was beautiful.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

run, run, run, run, run, run, keep running back to me....

I'm back at home in Edmonton. For the first time in over a month. My car is dying and so until I can get it into the shop, I'm using transit to get around....which I usually enjoy but today it's raining. Quite a bit. Pouring actually. I've thought about buying an umbrella about 25 times this summer but never have...a fact that I'm regretting now.

I stood on my porch this morning watching it come down on the half mowed grass in my yard, on the pavement and sidewalk outside my fence, on the wheat fields across that sounds beautiful. The eaves are overflowing now and a sheet of water is pouring over the steps up to the house. The wind is picking up and it looks like a hurricane out there. I'm listening to Basia Bulat's "Run" which I first heard last weekend at Edmonton FolkFest. A seriously beautiful song.

I'm trying in this moment to stay in the present, but so much of me is pulling forward into the future to see another moment like this. Another moment when I'm standing watching the rain and music is playing somewhere else in the house and Patrick is sketching something at the table and the kettle is going on the stove.... And so much of me is pulling back into the past, watching the snow fall from the kitchen windows in Reykjavik, listening to Patrick Watson, processing photos, feet up on the heater.... I find I just can't stay in one place in my mind. I've felt like this before; then I went to Bangladesh. And later again, and I went to Iceland.

Better start saving for a trip.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

how near, how far, how near boy, tell me how far.....

I'm on a train cruising through the outskirts of Montreal on the way to Belleville. It's still quite light out but you can tell its getting to be softer light, evening light. I'm listening to Cinematic Orchestra and every so often I can hear the train blowing its arrival. The old churches and 100 year old brick apartment buildings are thinning out and I'm beginning to glide through forest and field and rivers and small town gas stations that pop up along the tracks. The corn is almost as tall as the young trees already out here and the light catching their tops as they bend towards the train in the wind is stunning.

So far this week, I've been in Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal and have had no access to internet in the past 5 where do I begin? Maybe I'll just give a few highlights. A week ago Patrick and I were camping in the middle of a gorgeous forest outside Ft McMurray. I loved it despite the off and on weather and it was such a beautiful way to be just the two of us for a few days before his new job and my new job keep us apart for 6 months. After that I came home and packed and K-fern came a took me to the airport the next morning. I appreciated it because it's a pain to get the shuttle to the airport and its expensive to take a taxi or leave my car for two weeks but most of all, it's just nice to hang out with her on the way there and so I left Edmonton feeling good.
I spent 3ish days in Winnipeg, and there were lots of good moments but I think the best was when I met up with Jamie after her night class and we went out for supper at Stella's. The food we ordered was great and we drank and talked and enjoyed each others company until we were the only people left in the place, until the waitress asked us to settle up, until they started mopping under our feet. We then made our way home in the humid, Winnipeg night and fell asleep with Jayda the cat purring between us.
In Montreal I saw Geneva, who I haven't seen in a long long time. In years. I fell in love with the city immediately. It rained a lot. Probably every few hours. It would be hot and sunny and beautiful and then you'd hear a peel of thunder and you would hardly have time to run to any kind of shelter before it POURED for 20-30 minutes. A lot of Geneva and I's exploring was interrupted by this weather and we spent a lot of time hovering in the doorways of businesses and bus stations and bars. On friday night we went to a few bars in Old Montreal and found one we really liked. St Paul Pub is just a door on the street but it opened up into a beautiful second floor pub with window seats over the port and the street. Margaret was our server and was super sweet. We came back to that place this afternoon and spent most of our time drinking Creemore and watching the street below with the place mostly to ourselves.

And now I'm on the train to Belleville to spend some time with the Kerbys. I really love the train and I'm really loving Quebec and so it makes me really happy to be rounding out this week sliding across this landscape with this beautiful, soft light. These are the moments that I wish I could take everyone I love and share this with them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

and when you let go i will let go too...

JULY 10, 2010

We’re in Gregoire Lake Provincial Park. We came to stay two nights. This may have been a mistake. Yesterday we were still in the beautiful Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park (an island in the middle of Lac La Biche). By 9 am there, we were in swimsuits and flipflops, thinking about having an ice cream and walking along the beach. We stayed only one night there. That WAS a mistake. We got to Gregoire about an hour before the rain, stepping out of our car and changing hurridly into warmer pants and sweaters. The tent was set up on the only available surface, gravel. Patrick jimmied up a tarp over the table with what little rope we had and a stick from the dense forest surrounding us. The trees are mostly poplar. Reaching bare white bodies into the sky until a scraggly mass of braches and leaves decorate its top and make them sway dangerously in the slightest wind. When the rain came it poured angry, giant drops and creating rivers and ponds under our tent before the clouds started to break apart twenty minutes later. I used the back of the axe to dig trenches away from the largest lakes under our tent. After the skies cleared, the wind picked up and it continued to rain from the leaves at the tops of the birches waving in the wind. The fire was doused by the rain, the remaining wood wet, so Patrick and I crouched at the table under the tarp playing rook until it was too dark to see. Then we took cover in the tent and read Emily Carr by flashlight until we were too tired to talk.
Today the rain came off and on between breakfast and the early afternoon when we decided to take a nap and ended up sleeping through most of the only sun we’ve seen here so far. I woke up warm from the humidness of the tent and went to put on shorts. Patrick is gone to collect our daily allowance of wood, “only two buckets night, only available from 5 to 9 and don’t park in front of the gate”, and I’m watching the clouds swirling past those swaying birches trying to calculate how much time we have before it rains again. Blue Rodeo is playing out from my speakers and over it I hear the wind making its way to me through the underbrush. When it hits me, it’s cooler than I expected. Patrick drives into our site and starts to unload the firewood. Time to put jeans back on and pull things back under the shelter of the tarp.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the sun is up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful and so are you...

I'm driving almost the whole length of the province of Alberta this week. Today Patrick and I are making a day trip to Fort McMurray and later this week I'll be driving south....way shoot a wedding. Right now we're somewhere between Fort McMurray and Lac La Biche taking highway 881 which keeps turning from a small paved road into a large highway and then back to the small two laner that will take us most of the way home. Forest and lakes have been lining the road all the way there and back so far, but my favourite I think is the forests of dead evergreens...all still staning, all with little tufts of vegetation at the top. They look like a swampland of giant cattails. Along the highway, on a large patch of bare ground someone has taken long pieces of these dead trees and spelled out C+M. I like that someone took the time to stop and do that. We're listening to the Beatles and the sun is streaming in and the window is open and we're singing along. I'm loving this moment and trying to hold on to it in my mind because this roadtrip represents the beginning of a 6-month separation. And though I know that I'll still be seeing Patrick every few weeks, it's the everyday things that you miss and that make you lonely. No spontaneous movie watching on saturday afternoons curled up on the floor, no coming home from work and drinking a beer together on the porch, no holding hands while grocery shopping.... So today, I'm going to hold on to this moment and try not to already miss him.

Monday, June 14, 2010

so i'll wait for the sun, i'll wait for the light...

I came across this photo in "The Commons" ( on flick the other day. It's a pretty cool place. Full of photos from all over the world and from every time period that's been photographed. Anyway, I came across this one:

The caption to the images reads like this: "Juichende jongens bij de voetbalwedstrijd VSV-DFC (1-0) als VSV scoort. Velsen, Nederland, 18 oktober 1931.

Boys cheering when their favorite team scores.
Collectie Spaarnestad"

I found it in relation to world cup things I've been looking up, but I've been unable to close the tab in my browser for a few days. I keep looking at this photo and thinking about it. I keep thinking about these boys. I wonder how many are still alive. I think about them cheering at this soccer game and I can't help but think about the timeperiod. October 1931. They had no idea what was going on in Germany and what they would witness in their lifetime. They didn't know their young adulthood would be stolen from them by war. That their friends, parents, relatives might die in the terrible battles that would rip the Netherlands to shreds in the next decade. These boys are around my grandparents age and I've heard stories about the war's reach in Holland. Stories of the Nazis taking my grandfather right off his bike on his way to church. Stories of my grandmother hiding him in her mattress when the soldiers came to the door to find young men for work camps. Stories that contributed to my grandparents decision to leave their home country and come by boat with their two small children to a country they'd never seen. However, the point that I think about when I look at these boys, is that they were unknowingly on the precipice of a catastrophic disaster for the human race and that every generation to some extent or another has this experience. It is the lesson of every history that what one generation breeds, will come to fruition in another. Maybe not right away, maybe in combination with other forces and factors, but always to devastating effect.
I worry about this. Our world has obviously not (and may never) outgrow full out, undeniably violent, unjustifiable warfare. There is a significant percentage of our 6 billion brothers and sisters who live in constant fear of violent death within the context of conflict. And I worry about that. But in the city where I live, in a province like mine, in the country I call home, violent conflict is not always at the forefront and we forget that we, like these boys in the Dutch photo, are on the edge of something so terribly destructive that it will change every aspect of our lives and culture.
I'm talking about the way my generation and the generation before mine have treated the earth and its resources with disregard and outright violence. I worry about what I will live to see. What I will witness and how the lives of my children and grandchildren will be affected by the choices we make today as a culture, as a community and as individuals.
What I worry most about is the relationship we have with the earth in terms of its power to GROW. This summer, I gave up my lucrative landscaping job to return to the market garden farm I worked on years ago. This was not a good financial decision. Today I spent 8 hours walking long lines of broccoli and cabbage going after weeds with a hoe. This kind of work gives me a lot of time to think. I like doing physical, outdoor labour in the summer, but I particularly like this work. I think about the people who will buy these veggies at market and feed them to their families, how they made a choice to buy local food from people whose hands are still ingrained with the dirt that the produce was sitting in only hours before. I think about what it has taken to get this food to their table and I am proud of what I do. I have had the opportunity to receive an education that only the very privileged of this world obtain. I have a degree to my name and though that might not be so outstanding in Canada, in global terms, I am privileged indeed! I've had this degree for 4 years and I'm still labouring in fields. And it's exactly where I want to be. I am a part of growing food locally, sustainably and full of flavour that the produce that gets shipped across the globe for days and weeks can't compete with.

And yet I worry. In a world that puts more oil consumption into its food than its cars, in a culture that demands cheapness and convenience as a replacement for nutrition and quality, how do we instill a sustainable, realistic and powerful sense of food and land in our generation and the one to come? We are sitting on the edge of the consequences of our poor decisions and we have no idea how desperately it will impact us and the generation to come.

Monday, June 7, 2010

singing in the rain...

I'm sitting in Room At the Top (RATT) at the university. It's not the nicest place in the world. Actually it's kind of run down...but not in that way that produces a lot of character or anything. It has the UofA internet connection I need to do work and cheap beer and food (and the food does indeed taste really cheap as well). Patrick's having hot wings and ricards and I'm having a blue cheese burger and fries with a pilsner. Its been warm and muggy all day, raining on and off. The RATT is on the 7th floor of the SU building at the university and all four walls are all windows. It's quite a nice view over the river to downtown and across the very green looking campus towards my house. We're sitting in the north west corner of the pub and the rain is turning view out the west window into a monet painting. I'm eating a blue cheese & bacon burger that leaves a lot of be desired (like the texture of real meat) but the fries are pretty damn good for being $2.30/basket. I'm hoping they play world cup games when it begins next week so I can work and watch at the same time.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

no one is the savior they would like to be....

two beautiful things this weekend:

- Selling flowers at market and the busker closest to our stall playing music from the Amelie soundtrack on his accordian.

- Sitting on the back porch tonight after hanging out with friends at Sugarbowl watching the heavy clouds break up and the air being so so so still.

these are some of the good things about this weekend.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

and we'll undress beside the ashes of the fire....

Today is a very April day. I woke up this morning before 7am with the sun shining so brightly into my eyes that I couldn't hardly open them. By the time I was heading for a McDonald's big breakfast with Patrick the breeze had started up and the sky was clouding over. Now, as I sit at my kitchen table finishing up photos for Dawn Stiles Design, listening to Iron and Wine, the sky behind the tree in my yard is turning a very particular shade of grey-blue and the wind is whipping the green buds on the tree limbs against the fence and the roof. I love this kind of April weather. Would I prefer to be sitting outside reading a book in the grass while its 20+ degrees? ...maybe. But there's something really beautiful about this kind of day.

I've slipped up in writing something here every week so today I have two inspirational 'things' for you to enjoy:

First, is this Old Spice commercial which makes me very happy when I watch it:

The second one is this quote from...of course, Barbara Kingsolver (again)!

"People's dreams are made out of what they do all day. The same way a dog that runs after rabbits will dream of rabbits. It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around."

**sidenote: last night I fell asleep watching old episodes of America's Next Top Model and dreamed of Tyra teaching me to walk a runway. Don't know what to make of that in light of this quote!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

with our minds on our hearts and our hearts on the line....

I baked bread this morning. Tried a new recipe, a new technique. It's cooling now and the kitchen is full of that thick smell of yeast and heat. I've been spending some time reading about Barbara Kingsolver and came across this wonderful bit she writes in her book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life".

"When we traded homemaking for careers, we were implicitly promised economic independence and worldly influence. But a devil of a bargain it has turned out to be in terms of daily life. We gave up the aroma of warm bread rising, the measured pace of nurturing routines, the creative task of molding our families' tastes and zest for life; we received in exchange the minivan and the Lunchable."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

springtime and the promise of an open fist....

I've been real crap at blogging lately. I don't know why. I want to blame it on lack of time...but that's not true. I want to say I've been doing other more useful things, but quite frankly, I can't call watching back seasons of America's Next Top Model particularly useful. So while I was reading all the new posts from my lovely blogging friends this afternoon, I had an idea. A new idea for blogging for the summer. At least once a week, I am going to post something that has inspired me or caught my eye or something I am thinking of. It might be a poem or a photo or a song or a bit of a book I'm reading, something I had to eat that day...anything really. And in doing so I hope that the rest of you all who read this will find something interesting or inspiring in it too. I will begin this trend today with this poem:

Scenic Route

For Lucy, who called them "ghost houses"

Someone was always leaving
and never coming back.
The wooden houses wait like old wives
along this road; they are everywhere,
abandoned, leaning, turning gray.

Someone always traded
the lonely beauty
of hemlock and stony lakeshore
for survival, packed up his life
and drove off to the city.
In the yards the apple trees
keep hanging on, but the fruit
grows smaller year by year.

When we come this way again
the trees will have gone wild,
the houses collapsed, not even worth
the human act of breaking in.
Fields will have taken over.

What we will recognize
is the wind, the same fierce wind,
which has no history.

Lisel Mueller

and I took this photo recently that makes me think of this too:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

we'll get lost in the warm...

It's beautiful today. Warm and sunny and 15 degrees. All those things you hope for in a spring day. The air smells of thawing soil and there's messy puddles in the ditches. I much more beautiful day than yesterday. Yesterday, I woke up to snow. I got all bundled up to walk to the LRT in the snow and grumbled about the snow all the way down my driveway. When I got to the LRT path though, I realized I could hear birds. Lots and lots and LOTS of birds singing to each other. All different kinds too. I kept looking around in the trees and the field and couldn't see any, but apparently they were loving the spring snow. It made me shut up about my grumbling and enjoy the rest of my walk in what might be the last snowfall until winter again.

Today I was extremely productive. I bought a deep freeze of a perfect size to hold all my meat for a good deal which in turn really helped out the Med student I bought it from who was moving to Ontario. I feel good about buying used things when I know that I'm happy and the person who sold it is happy too. There's so much stuff lying around in this world because everyone wants something new. There's a line in a movie I watched recently that says "things aren't made to be fixed these days". I thought that was really true and really interesting. I think things have a certain lifespan and are indeed, not made to be fixed, but made to die prematurely to give way for consumers to buy NEW things. I'm not trying to tackle revolutionizing this kind of thinking because capitalize runs on these ideas...but instead, I'm trying to make sure that the things we choose to buy and use, live as full a lifespan as possible rather than tossing more half-used items for newer, more fragile things.
Anyway, I bought a freezer. And it is lovely. I have desperately needed one for my food for so long and it feels good to open the garage door and see it there humming away.
I also baked bread today in my crockpot for the first time. It was good, but it got a little dark on the bottom. I tried to scrape off the worst parts and took some to the Fernhouts who have graciously housed my meat in their freezer for the past few months. In between all this I made some chili and did a number of hours of work for the university and transplanted my garden...which is growing out of control so I also measured out the garden boxes I will be making in the next week. I played some darts with Patrick and took a walk on the farm and am planning to do some laundry before the night is through.
But right now I'm listening to good music, sitting on my back porch in a t-shirt and watching the sun make long shadows at 7pm. I'm cautious to say it but....I think spring is finally here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

everything I want that I never knew I needed...

There's something to say about having a job where you feel productive. I spent three summers working at a job that paid me well for...well...not much. The longer I worked there the more I found myself stretching hour chores into day chores into week long chores until I was simply just driving around wasting gas and time until the clock said I could go home. Working at the farm is just the opposite. I work until I'm exhausted and then I work some more and at the end of the day when I go home, I have all this extra energy that comes from pushing through and getting things accomplished during the day. And that carries over to the weekends too. So far this weekend, I've cleaned, vacuumed and washed the inside of my car, put in some good hours for the university work, read most of a book, planted seeds in starter pots for my garden, did my taxes, held a photoshoot with a band, cooked interesting and healthy meals AND am currently doing some laundry.

These are all reasons why I love doing things that make me feel productive and good about what I've accomplished.

ANYWAY, last week we went to Vancouver for a couple of days. It was beautiful and green and full of birds...ducks and pigeons and pretty little yellow ones that hop through back alleys and make Patrick jump and declare it to be a rat. It was a trip full of visiting and relaxing. We came with no agenda other than to spend time with those friends we missed at Christmas. I like visiting Vancouver. I'm not sure it's a place I could live, but I really like visiting it. And I really like the people who currently live there. Sarah was conveniently available the entire time we visited which was nice to be able to sit back and chat over a cup of tea or walk along Wreck Beach and enjoy that friendship that we have never outgrown. She made us fresh bread the first afternoon we were there and it was amazing. There's nothing quite like fresh bread.
One night we all went out to this place in Gas Town called 6 Acres. It was all brick walls and low lighting and enormous beer list and I loved it. As Trixie and Jon and Sarah and Patrick and I all sat around that small table drinking our beers and talking about each other's lives and pasts and futures, I felt like it was one of the most beautiful moments I've had in 2010 thus far. There was something so comfortable about, yet so charged with everything all of us are planning to do and all the things we admit to not knowing yet. I loved it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

well i'm waiting, 'till I don't know when, 'cause I'm sure it's gonna happen then...

I woke up early yesterday morning and drove out to the farm for my first day back working there. It was a quiet drive. Cold. I watched the sun rise behind the refineries. Before most people were on their way to work I was reaching the outskirts of the city. As I hit the gravel road that winds its way down to the river, the most incredible fog came up and made it almost impossible to see the edges of the road. It only lasted a few minutes though and cleared as I crossed over the railroad tracks that made a sweeping left turn back into the fog. It wasn't a particularly hard day of work. We were getting stuff ready for market so there was some potato grading and bagging and some cabbage cleaning and then some packing it into crates into the truck for the morning. It was beautiful. As I walked around the yard doing the various chores that needed to get done, my shoes were alternately slipping on ice and slurping through mud. The sun was bright and warm and by noon I was down to a t-shirt and jeans. In the afternoon we swept out some sheds and then organized multiple pallets of bales of garden mix to get them ready for the plants coming next week. The bales were almost as heavy as I am and it took all I had in me to pull them down off one pallet, carry it across the shop to the next pile and hoist it into position to thaw. We were done half way through the afternoon so I went home early and as I drove through the city, my window was down, my music was up and I felt better than I have in months.
This morning my arms are sore. They have a few cuts and bruises, but I'm wide awake at 7am watching the sun creep across my wall and turn the whole room golden and it feels like it's going to be another good day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

in these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die...

Recently my friend Danielle called me...from Australia. It made me very happy and has since made my days better because she pointed me to this Australian band I hadn't heard of before. They're called Mumford and Sons, and I love them. Especially The Cave and Little Lion Man. I'm sitting here tonight on a Friday evening sorting through wedding photo sessions for my website and drinking gin and tonic with grapefruit ice cubes. I'm enjoying the empty feeling of my house tonight. Beth is out with friends and Karen is gone to enjoy her reading week elsewhere and I'm at the kitchen table. The only light on in the house is above me and the banjo and piano riffs are tinkling out from my computer and disappearing into the dark around me. Soon the house will be filled with the sounds of visitors and I am so looking forward to that, but tonight, it's just me and some good music and some good gin. And there's something about that, that allows me to expand into this place.
I feel like I've spent so much of the past year always moving, always containing 'myself' into a book bag or a suitcase and that has taken a toll on me that i forget about until I have moments like these. It feels like it has been a long time since I actually "lived" in a place. I'm in the process of feeling out what "home" means to me and how to create and nurture that. As I write this, Mumford and Sons are singing "where you invest your love is where you invest your life". I think I've found some pretty spectacular things to invest in in the past few years. I find it strange that I've only really discovered photography 4 years ago and to look back and to see what has come from that is incredible. In only 4 years. Sometimes I find myself panicking about what I should "do" in life. I always find that I love too many things to really simply immerse myself in only one. And I'm realizing bit by bit that loving and pursuing lots of things at once is okay, is healthy, is part of who I am.
And so I will book more weddings to photograph. I will put on more photography shows. I will read more biographies. I will take more classes in English Lit and Sociology. I will put time and effort into my garden and into growing things. I will write more. I will travel more, and I will love more people whose paths I cross. I will do all of these things because I love them all and its less about making time for them as it is allowing myself to follow all of them. Does that make sense? Maybe.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

don't you wanna get out of cape cod, out of cape cod tonight....

So I did some scanning of interesting things in old books today. I find myself doing that a lot lately, but some days are more interesting than others. Today was incredibly interesting. Mostly all because of one book. I'm starting to realize that poor penmanship was the norm in the 1700s & 1800s but in today's documented 1835 publication of the complete works of Byron, I discovered not one, not two but THREE handwritten letters.

The guy who bought the book or owned it at least, is Bufus Prime or Prince (best I can make out) and he's written at least one of the letters...the four pager about Vampires, which I will get to later.

The first handwritten note I found was a poem. A love poem. I don't know whether it was a Bufus Price/Prime original or a Byron or whatnot. I haven't spent much time looking at it really, but it was interesting to pull out of the first couple pages. The best part about it, in my opinion, is the embossed 'P' on the top of the page. It was a nice kind of paper. Thick. Liney. Like Linen.

Further in, I found an incredible four page letter folded neatly and pasted into the pages of the book sent from Venice by Mr Prince/Prime to Paris:

Now, here's my favourite part. Turns out that guy in Paris had been publishing work referring to our dear Mr Prince/Prime as the author of a certain work on vampires and not only that, citing biographical details about Mr Prince/Prime's past travels. Apparently Mr Prince/Prime took great offense to this and makes very clear in his needlessly long 4 page letter that he is not the author of that work or the traveler of those stories. In this letter he is asking Mr lack of fact checker in Paris to publish a 'contradiction' to set the record straight. My favourite line is when, after listing the reasons why he cannot possibly be this man being referred to, he states: "I have besides a personal dislike to vampires, and the little acquaintance I have with them would by no means induce me to divulge their secrets."

Now, the last letter in the book kinda makes it look like maybe he was divulging too many vampire secrets, despite his little acquaintance with them and the vampires didn't like it. Looks like they got to him. That is, of course, if a decrease in grammar and sentence structure and penmanship indicate a vampire attack.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

time has a knack of changing me...

I've been away from this blog again for too long. I've had a lot of things to write here and I've been thinking a lot in the past couple weeks, but for some reason or another, it hasn't been transferred onto here. Lets see...I'm sitting in my room, on my futon with the afternoon sun streaming in through the window and splashing across the side of my face, so much so that it's difficult to see the computer screen unless I squint. So, what's new. My show at Sugarbowl is coming to a close. It's been really awesome. The owner of the place has already booked me in for another show next year and I've sold over half the pieces which means I've more than broke even! Plus, I've got to meet a lot of interesting people who are purchasing my work. The person who is buying my favourite piece of them all turned out to be this awesome girl who I had a 2 hour conversation with. Turns out she's part of this excellent band called "100 Mile House". And right now, you need to go look at their website and listen to them ( - Jamie and Sarah, I am speaking specifically to you here...but everyone who reads this should go have a listen. My current favourite songs are: Fight, Jonah and Songs we all know.
In other news, I've lined up some refreshing spring/summer work. There's been a lot of anxiety and trepidation for me in the job market area. I've spent the past three years relying on the knowledge that I would landscape in the summer and make a decent wage. Well, three years of landscaping has taken its toll on me. I'm so desperately sick of dust and dryness and dead grass. So I called up a market garden farm I worked on for a summer 4 years ago. They have a spot for me doing work in the greenhouses in the spring and then transplanting into the fields in the early summer. The money is about half of what I made landscaping, but I can't begin to say what growing things and using my hands to bring things to life from soil and water will do for me. It will be healing. And I'm in need of some after this past year.
I went to the King's IS Conference last week. It was on Homelessness and one of the session speakers was a local Anglican priest who is running a photography course for street youth. He was so absolutely passionate about it and I really enjoyed hearing about the project. I talked with him after and ended up meeting him this week to talk about potentially being involved in the project myself. It sounds pretty cool and he's got some awesome long term plans for it, so I'm going to start becoming involved when the next course runs in March/April.
We got to talking about a lot of things during my chat with him and one of them was about recognizing trends in our art and style. I'm starting to notice that my photography is so based upon S-P-A-C-E. I'm still thinking about what that means. Maybe I'll have more on that next post.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Body to body, heart to heart...

So its been a long time since I've written here. Like a LONG time. So, as per Jamie's request, I'm writing. I don't know what to write about exactly though. I've been working at the University lately and its been fun. Except lately, when the internet is not allowing me on. So I'm limited to having internet only at home. Which I suppose, isn't that different from how I usually spend my summers, but in the winter, I feel like the internet plays a bigger part in my life. However, I feel that this lack of continual connection is becoming a growing experience for me. I'm finding I'm wasting less time surfing around on the web and sending more emails, learning more important things from it and spending more time just listening to music and reading. In fact, I find I'm being more intentional in what I take in in a day (music, video, etc) in general.

That being said, in the past few months I've really been interested in WWII. I don't know where it came from really, but suddenly I'm reading biographies about people on both sides, I'm watching movies and documentaries about it, I'm spending my time on the internet learning about the concentration camp system and the allies who found them and what happened to them after. Its been very interesting.

Also, I've been planning a lot of visits. In february, Patrick's sister is coming to visit for her school break and I'm pumped, despite the fact that I think Edmonton, while FANTASTIC in summer, is only perhaps mediocre in winter (this has less to do with Edmonton than it does with my distaste for cold weather). Then it's off to Vancouver in early March to make a very short, but very overdue visit to some wonderful friends out there. After which, most of the rest of Patrick's family is coming to see Edmonton! From there it's only a burst of hopefully spring weather in April before I jet to LA to see a good friend there. I have only ever been in LA once before, and I spent half that time puking on the curb and half the time curled around my luggage in a gravol induced sleep - this was after a flight from Tokyo which was also the worst turbulence I've experienced EVER. I hope to remedy this view of LA with this trip.

What else do I have to say...I LOVE my slow cooker. I now own two cookbooks for my slow cooker (thanks Jamie!) and have been using it regularly. Seriously, its the best cooking invention ever!

Other than that, I've decided I'm going to try to take photos more regularly in the next few months. I can't remember the last time I took photos for myself intentionally and I need to return to doing that more often.

As a final note, I've been listening to Cher while I've been writing this (not intentionally, but due to "random" on iTunes), and I'm kind of feelin' it.