Categotry Archives: Just for You

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Despite all my rage

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Categories: Just for You, Stories, Tags: ,

I was tagged by my friend Julian (@saskajules) to post five photos for five consecutive days. Actually, the challenge didn’t say anything about consecutive days; it just said five days. We *assume* it means consecutive days. But really, one could post five photos during five arbitrarily chosen days.

IMG_8610 Most of the time when people say ‘random’, they mean ‘arbitrary’. “Random” basically means something that’s chosen or done or made without thought. In the field of statistics, it means there is an equal chance that each option will be selected. “Randomness” is a lack of predictability. Most of the time we mean “arbitrary”, which means a choice that’s made or something that is selected due to whimsy, or because of random selection (which means a non-predictable selection). In mathematics, it’s a quantity of unspecified value. This is a complete diversion from what I was going to say.

This is what I was going to say:

Look up. Break your attention from the road at your feet; stop looking at your hands. Look up. Pay attention to the vast space above you, and let your thoughts soar.

I’m going to challenge my friend Lori-Anne (@ladida83) to post five pictures for five *consecutive* days, and to tag someone new each day.

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The Whole Wide World

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Categories: Just for You, Stories, Tags: ,

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I was tagged by my friend Julian (@saskajules) to post five photos for five days in a row.

Look there.IMG_7501

Look right there, in the palm of my hand. What do you see?

Nothing

Look again.

Just dirt, I guess.

There in the palm of my hand is promise. There is history. There is hope. What else do you see?

Nothing. There’s nothing there.

This is an invitation for you to see.

I’m going to tag my friend @SoupSimply to post five photos for five days, and to tag someone new in each post. I bet she’s going to post a lot of pictures of food. THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST WEEK EVER.

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Believe it or not, walking on air

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Categories: Family, Just for You, The Nipper, Tags:

I was tagged by Julian (@saskajules) to post five pictures in five days.

IMG_8903.JPGToday is #TheNipper’s birthday party. He wanted to come to the giant warehouse full of trampolines. The WAREHOUSE full of TRAMPOLINES.

And because the parts of my brain that process fun are stuck in the 90s, I’m in love with the blacklights and the cheesy lasers and the whole dance club feel of the place. So who’s up for a drunken trampoline tweetup for my birthday? BLACKLIGHTS, TRAMPOLINES, and SHITTY DANCE MUSIC!! It can’t possibly get any more awesome.

WAIT.

SPARKLE PANTS.

Okay this is totally going to be a thing.

I tag my friend James (@_James_Park) to post five pictures for five days and to tag someone every day.

IMG_8912.JPG and my loot from @CBCSask’s tweetup is glowing.

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La Frileuse / Winter

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Categories: Just for You, Stories, Tags:

IMG_8884.JPGI’ve been challenged to post five pictures in five days by Julian (@saskajules).

Jean-Antoine Houdon’s (not HODOR as I muttered under my breath as I read the tag) “La Frileuse/Winter”. This was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was in New York last week. I kind of love her. The curve of her thighs, the serene resolute look on her face. The fact that it’s bronze just made the subject even colder. At the time of its creation the Salon rejected it because they felt a partially draped figure was indecent (fully nude ones were not).

Incidentally, “la frileuse” means “the cautious”, I believe. She certainly looks that as she steps trepidatiously forward.

I quite love this piece.

I challenge my new work neighbour Annabel at @wheeliegoodcoffee to post five pictures in five days and nominate someone new every day.

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It’s been nine long years

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Categories: Children, Family, Just for You, The Captain, Tags:

IMG_1192Not really. Not really long years. Nine ridiculously short years. Nine years that feels like days. Nine years that passed in the blink of an eye.

Your brother was in his stroller. I clutched my go-mug of coffee with one white-knuckled hand and the stroller with the other. We took pictures of you out in front of the garage with your new backpack. Well. Your dad and Papa took those pictures because I couldn’t. We started walking across the street, and you reached up and took my hand as soon as I put my coffee in its holder.

“I’m scared, Mama,” you said.

“I know,” I told you. “I’m scared too. But I think it’s going to be okay.”

You with your round cheeks and your bright eyes. Your hands were still chubby-knuckled and you wore the sweater I’d knit for you with the Irish wool mum sent back from Kilkenny. I thought about how proud she would be of you. Then I pushed that thought as far away as I could because I’d already been sobbing for weeks about your first day of Kindergarten. Of COURSE all of the other parents were crying (well, some of them, who may have been on their fifth kid, pretty much just drove by and slowed down to let the little urchins out of the  car).

You were the only child I could see on that playground. I heard some of your hockey teammates call out to me, and I suppose I must have waved to them.

Your teacher came to greet us at the gate, and she knelt down and said, “I know you’re scared, and that’s okay. Everyone’s a little scared on their first day.”

Then you hugged me tightly and took your teacher’s hand and you walked onto the playground. I stood for just a moment watching you, and in that moment felt so pleased. Yet letting you go was the hardest thing I’ll ever do. It will always be the hardest thing I’ll ever do.

Somewhere there is a place where all of the little pieces of mothers’ hearts go.

 

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A Gift of the Prairie

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Categories: Books, Just for You, poetry, writing, Tags: , , ,

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THE BOOK THAT MY POEMS ARE IN IS HERE! THE BOOK THAT MY POEMS ARE IN IS HERE!!

Extra points if you can name the reference there.

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It’s called A Gift of the Prairie and it is published by the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre. This was a project co-ordinated (and edited) by the inimitable Bernadette Wagner. The book features pieces by several kickass writers in the Last Mountain Lake area. I’d say more but I haven’t read the whole book yet!

You can find the book on the web here or here.

Please come to the first launch/reading series at 2pm on Monday, 1st September at the Lumsden Beach Hall, or to my reading on 20th October at 7:00 pm at Crave in Regina. Attend ALL the readings:

2 pm Monday September 1, Lumsden Beach Hall, Lumsden Beach.

2 pm Saturday September 6, Lumsden Library, Lumsden.

2 pm Sunday September 28, Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, Regina Beach.

7 pm Monday October 20,Vertigo Series, Crave Restaurant, 1925 Victoria Avenue, Regina.

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Pale Yellow

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Categories: Just for You, Stories, Tags:

IMG_5990She was an energetic child, running ahead of her parents everywhere they went. She was full of laughter and joy and her long golden hair flew behind her as she ran. She was a child of the sun.

They tried, one summer, to put her on one of those leashes for children. It was at Klondike Days in Edmonton. After the third passer-by asked what was wrong and could that child not walk (she had lain on the ground, flat on her back, and refused to move, in the middle of the fairway), her parents removed the leash, handed it back to the rental office, and asked for their money back. They made it clear to the child that she was not to run so far ahead that she could not see her parents’ eyes. So the child ran backwards through the fairway. After that, her father carried her. Her favourite was when he pushed her up onto his broad, strong shoulders so she rode above the surging crowd. She could reach the sun. She was the colour yellow.

Iris

She was the child who loved everything she found. There was never a middle ground for her. Once her heart had begun to open, it opened all the way. She loved the dandelions that littered the lawn, their little fuzzy heads tickling her lips. She loved the scratchiness of her grandfather’s unshaven jaw. She loved to hammer nails into boards in the driveway. She loved the kittens born to a stray in the garage. She loved the dead animal she found in the bushes, and the little white worms that wriggled inside it. She loved the snakes and the frogs in the garden, the cooing of pigeons, and the way gophers wagged their tails. She loved the endless peacock-blue sky, she loved the wind that took away her breath, she loved the stones that made ripples in puddles. She loved the people into whose arms she wriggled each night, and the stories they whispered in her ear before she was sent off to bed.

As for the things she didn’t love, she was very clear about that too. She hated when people were mean. She hated stones in her shoes. She hated that the old fart who lived across the alley told all the kids to call him “old Bonehead”, and she thought he was being mean to himself and so she decided she would never call him “old Bonehead”, and that made him angry and he threw onions at her. She hated weeds in the lake that brushed against her calves. She hated liver. She hated that so many people were too busy. She hated the colour pink. She was a child of hyperbole.

summer2web She was friendly. She was never shy to meet new people, even though sometimes she didn’t like being around a lot of them. She always preferred being just a little way away. She liked her distance, but wasn’t afraid to get close. She didn’t so much unfurl as explode, throwing her arms wide, as wide as her smile. She was full of just as many shadows as she was full of light, though, and sometimes was afraid of the dark, afraid of thunder.

It wasn’t the dark itself that frightened her, but the stillness it brought with it. The dampened sounds, the whispered voices. The movement she could only see out of the corner of her eye, there by the edge of the dresser. The ghostly images that swam, reflected in a looking-glass or a window, half-seen then lost on second glance. It was the loneliness that darkness brought that scared her the most. She didn’t so much mind being alone, but dreaded the feeling of being left behind, being left out, being forgotten. If the lights went out, would the world forget her?

IrisTongue4webShe comforted herself with words. Long after the lights had gone out, words tumbled from her tongue. Like soldiers marching across uneven terrain, they came one by one. Words she’d heard but didn’t know: chrysanthemum, pneumonia, adjunct, fallow, carburator. She tried these words out in tiny whispers while the house grew still around her.

Words enveloped her, comforted her. She dreamed if she ran fast enough and said the right word, she could jump and become airborne. When she rode in the bed of the truck on bumpy gravel roads, she could stand up and hold tight to the rear window of the cab. The wind that smashed against her face would steal her words, and that’s when she most liked to shout the words she was most curious about – when only the wind could take them. She was a logodaedalian.

glowweb

She was never afraid of death. It was all part of a cycle, and cycles made sense. Even when death came for her grandparents, she was not afraid. Sad, yes, but never afraid. Death was not a dark place. It was simply unknown. A blank page. Unnamed. Something unnamed was something to be explored. Something to be learned about. Something new.

The sadness death left in its wake, though, weighed heavily on her. She could not bear to see others’ tears and suffering; she felt her own heart breaking every time. Sometimes it was unbearable, and the heaviness of sadness would send her from the room. This was when the darkness became comfortable for her. Where the sun could not reach her, she could be perfectly blue.

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What’s art got to do with it?

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Categories: Just for You, When There's Weather, Tags: ,

"The Runner", public art scuplture in Athens by Costas Varotsos. Made of green glass with an internal structure of steel. Royalty-free image from stock.xchng by Lucretious

I was in Calgary recently.  You remember this from such classics as “I lost the King in Yellow” and “damn, that was a good Manhattan, even without the cherries”. Well. Maybe not that last bit. That may have been a *private* experience.

"The Runner", public art scuplture in Athens by Costas Varotsos. Made of green glass with an internal structure of steel. Royalty-free image from stock.xchng by Lucretious

“The Runner”, public art scuplture in Athens by Costas Varotsos. Made of green glass with an internal structure of steel. Royalty-free image from stock.xchng by Lucretious

At any rate, while being chauffered to the aeroport for my return jaunt, my hosts pointed out a really cool THING sitting on the overpass just before the turnoff. “What do you think of THAT?” the Fenris Wolf asked.

“I think that’s really cool!” I said. Because it was really cool. It’s a giant blue hoop just kind of…hanging out…on the overpass. “What’s it do?”

“It doesn’t *do* anything. It’s the latest piece of public art that’s causing a huge uproar.”

“What’s the uproar about? Isn’t it bad enough that Calgary doesn’t have even a single public art gallery? Now people also don’t want there to be any public art at all?”

“Well,” the Fenris Wolf said, “it cost something like $450,000 to build.”

“COOL!” I half-shouted (sorry about that, Fenris Wolf. I get excited. Even in cars. Like a puppy). “Good for the artist.”

It turns out that the city of Calgary has an interesting (although not by any means unique) public art policy that stipulates that for municipal projects, a percentage of the total project cost must be allocated to public art. I did not know about these sorts of policies (I never really thought about that before, to be honest with you. I just kind of went along assuming that all public art was pretty much reviled by 70% of the population for being a waste of money, and that everyone in Canada who values public art had to fight tooth and nail to get any of it installed anywhere, ever. I was wrong. I like being wrong sometimes). ANYWAY. So there was a municipal project in Calgary, and the city commissioned a group of German artists (called inges idee and consisting of Hans Hemmert, Axel Lieber, Thomas A. Schmidt and Georg Zey) to create a piece of public art, and their winning project was “Travelling Light”, which is a giant blue hoop.

This topic was featured on the radio this morning as well, with some interesting arguments and discussions. Like, I suspect, most public art installations, there are people who don’t like the piece. There are people who don’t “get” the piece (I’m not sure if “getting” it is the point, but I’m’a talk about that in a minute). There are people who are incensed that more than $450,000 was paid for a giant blue hoop (which, if you read up on it, is quite an interesting piece of engineering. It’s not just a big blue hula hoop stuck on the side of the road with sticky tack and chewing gum).  There are people who love the sculpture. This is normal. The whole thing has sparked a debate in Calgary’s city council and they’re talking about reworking the city’s public art policy.

I don’t really want to spend a whole lot of time on what Calgary should or shouldn’t do (get yourselves a public gallery. Really, Calgary, that’s shameful. The only major north american city without a public gallery!? Phoo.) with their public art policy. But I do want to talk about a couple of things related to public art.

1) “I don’t think we should use public dollars to pay for X”. This is a statement with which I fundamentally disagree, but I also realise folks who think this way cannot be disavowed of their opinion about the importance of public funding for the arts (in precisely the same way that I can not be disavowed of my opinon that it is a NECESSITY to allocate public money for art and culture). It’s a debate I’ve had many times over (even on this blog) and so I’m not sure it’s even necessary to open that discussion again. I also want to be clear here that I include amateur sports in “culture”. Because they are an integral and important part of our quality of life.

2) “My six-/three-year old could do that.” Now this *is* an interesting argument. One of the reasons your six or three or two or nine year old could do that art is because before we train the ingenuitiy and creative genius and passion out of our children, they are pure vessels of wonder. This sounds *very* hippy-dippy, and I don’t mind that. The point I’m making here is that our children see things in ways that we have forgotten too look, and that is one of the reasons that art – ALL art – is so important. You might not be able to tell that the scribble in the centre of the page is supposed to be a goose, but your kid can. And your kid can tell you a whole story about that goose. And probably has a song to make up about it and an accompanying dance move. Do you know what this is?

This is a child’s brain firing on all cylinders. This is the very crux of learning, of growth, the very spark of intelligence. We learn through expression, through communication, through observation. What that kid with the goose-scribble has just done is observe her environment, interpret her environment, and reproduce what she experienced in an effort to communicate it to others. THIS IS A HUGE DEAL.

So when you’re saying that a piece of art is “so simplistic that a child could do it”, you are paying an enormous compliment to the artist. What you’re saying is that the artist has been able to recapture what most of us lose in about grade 1: the ability to see something, wonder about it, and interpret it. And to be able to create something that is wholly new or different. Sometimes this is representational, and we can “tell what something is supposed to be”. We are trained to think of representational art as “good art”, because it’s easy to grok, at first glance, that that sculpture is a dude with no arms or that that painting is a woman not quite smiling. And we get that those things make us ask questions about the artist and about the piece and generally make us think. But when we’re faced with something more abstract, those things become more challenging.

I’ll tell you, I was the first person to bitch about the Canadian government spending close to $2 million for Voice of Fire. I didn’t know the history of the piece, the artist’s intent, and I’d never seen it. I’d only ever seen pictures of it in the media. When I stood in front of that painting, I was completely overwhelmed. I mean, it’s MASSIVE. And it *did* something to me. I could go on and on about how it felt like I was falling into it, or about how I couldn’t tear my eyes away, or about how I could have very easily just spent my entire day at the National Gallery just looking at that painting. But I won’t, because personal experiences don’t amount to a hill of beans. What I will say is that as Canadians, we should be proud that our National Gallery contains billions and billions of dollars’ worth of artworks from all over the world. Voices communicating something, in a moment in time, that do, in some way, change the way we look at the world. Pieces that do make us question, or that do make us feel something. Some of them are beautiful. Some of them are ugly and horrible. Some of them are weird. But that pretty much describes all the people of the world, and that is an important thing.

3) “I don’t get it.” Not all art is there to be “got”. When you look at something and you immediately “get” it, you understand it without trying, you’re not thinking about it. You see a stop sign, you stop, you kind of half-assedly look around for oncoming traffic, and then you go. This is a basic activation of your lizard hindbrain and you’re pretty much just being a trained monkey. A sculpture of a bear that’s installed in a forest probably won’t make you think too much about it. You’ll be all, “oh hey. That’s a sculpture of a bear in the forest. That totally makes sense. Huh. It even looks like a bear and it’s actually in a forest. That’s great art!” But if you see a sculputre of a 40-foot-tall blue bear staring in to an office building, your brain starts firing off in all directions.

Smarty Pants could tell you a whole bunch about what this means, and the little tiny area in your brain, just above your ear, that basically gets tasered into action whenever you encounter something you’re not expecting. The short version of this is that you start asking questions. And when you start asking questions, you start thinking about things. And when you start thinking about things, your whole body goes into action. This, I think, is what the majority of artists out there are trying to do. They’re trying to get you to think about something, to feel something (even if that feeling is revulsion).

Not all art is pretty or palatable, or even likeable. And art is supposed to not only be a reflection of life, but it’s also supposed to get us to challenge what we think we know. It tries to get us to talk about things. To think about things. To get out of our lizard hind-brains and out of the trained monkey suit and into a different place. At least, that’s my take on it. So if you don’t “get” it right away, that’s okay. That’s GOOD! Maybe you’ll never get it (“melting watches? What the hell is with the melting watches? That’s not art; that’s just a bunch of nonsense.”). Maybe you will. Maybe you don’t like to think about things (that makes me sad) or question things (sadder) or feel things (still sad). Maybe you’re cool with the whole trained monkey schtick, and if you’re happy with that, then I guess that’s okay too. I guess.

There are many, many reasons why public art is important. Far smarter people than I have even done SCIENCE about public art. The fact that there is debate about it is a *good* thing. We argue about the things we are most passionate about. Ask yourself why a piece of public art bothers you so much. Ask yourself why you’re so upset about the amount of money being spent on it and whether you’d still be upset if the government spent the same amount of money on a concert, or a sports event, or a business convention. You might just not like the idea of governments spending public money on anything – that’s a very different discussion than whether or not public art is valuable.

Gallery of public art installations

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Sacrifice?

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Categories: Just for You, Rants, True Stories, When There's Weather, Tags: , ,

See, the thing is, when I chose to become a parent, I did not think in terms of “sacrifice”. I did not think in terms of “giving things up”. It wasn’t about not being able to go out partying with my bee eff effs. It wasn’t about not eating hot food. It wasn’t about giving up my personal space and time.

It was about welcoming a brand new soul to a fucked-up, wonderful, terrifying, joy-filled world. It was about getting to help build a whole new person. It was about seeing everyone I had ever loved reflected in wide, questioning, innocent eyes.

My great grandmother as a girl, standing with her parents.

My great grandmother as a girl, standing with her parents.

It was a decision to learn from my mistakes, to know I would make many, many more. It was a decision to create something bigger than myself, someone more important than myself. It was about learning what true need was, and learning how to be comfortable filling that need with love and patience and absolute fear. It was about learning how to identify and to accept my myriad weaknesses and to begin to learn how to find strength.

I did not choose to become a parent because I wanted someone to fill all of those voids in my life left *by* my life. I didn’t think children would “fix my life” (rather; I knew they would bring different challenges). I certainly wasn’t doing what was expected of me.

Having children has been the scariest thing I have ever chosen to do. It is the grandest adventure, and on every adventure you encounter mishaps and hardships and insurmountable problems. Usually, I am the insurmountable problem. I had to be willing to accept that there was someone who would love me because of who I am, and who would, at the same time, resent me and sometimes hate me for those same things.

I resent the claim that parents do a thankless job ceaselessly for no pay. Parents are paid with laughter and with tears. With hugs and fights and birthdays and slamming doors and most of all with years. We are paid with time. Every moment you get to share with a child is a gift. Even if you don’t like kids (not every gift is the one we want).

The most important thing I learned when I chose to become a parent is how much I valued the people who had a hand in raising me, even though sometimes they messed up. I have learned and continue to learn so much about who I am and who I am meant to be. I have not had to sacrifice; rather I have had to earn every moment

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In the Name of

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Categories: Just for You, Tags: ,

Image from http://izquotes.com/quote/310004 - George Sand, French novelist and memoir writer.

Image from http://izquotes.com/quote/310004 – George Sand, French novelist and memoir writer.

This is something that’s been bothering me for a while. It goes hand-in-hand with the fact that we don’t value art and culture. I mean, as a society. And this isn’t about throwing public money at the arts, so I’m just going to head that whole ridiculous argument off at the pass.

What bothers me is when I hear someone (usually someone who is not in favour of public funding of arts and culture) say : “Art for the sake of art…”, a statement that is usually followed up by something like : “is fine, but why should I have to pay some fop out of my own tax dollars to make ugly paintings that I don’t like?”

I’m going to completely disregard everything that’s wrong in that question except for one part. The part about “art for the sake of art”. I’m going to break that down a little.

The theory here is that artists create because they are driven to create. And, by and large, this is true. Our lives are not livable if we’re not engaging in the things that give our lives meaning. And this is true for everyone on the planet, whether you’re a pipe fitter, a farmer, a dancer, a writer…whatever ‘er’ you are, you find meaning in doing something. For artists, that ‘something’ is applying our creative skills and imagination to produce something that evokes emotion in others (and it’s not always a lovey-dovey “oh, isn’t that LOVELY” emotion we’re going for, either). We want to create something that others appreciate.

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