Friday, December 18, 2009

where the earth shows its bones

There's God in the trees, I'm weak in the knees
And the sky is a painful blue
I'd like to look around, but honey, all I see is you.

This is where I come from.
This is how I know what love is.
Happy anniversary Mom & Dad.
(lyrics from Stan Rogers, "45 Years")

Friday, December 11, 2009

sugar and spice and everything nice

A few years ago for Christmas, my dad handed me a wrapped-up present with a tiny version of this poster attached as a gift-tag. It was the first time I'd seen it.
It's pretty much the perfect picture. Joan, my life-long hero. Her gorgeous sisters. String instruments. A regal sofa. Draft dodging.

Those hats.
Floppy brim felt hats are the physical manifestation of "young and in love."

This summer I finally found that hat. So obviously I took my little sister by the arm, sat on a grassy hill and listened to folk music.

(Joanie, you're welcome to join us next year)

For more Joanie, she did a really wonderful performance at Newport's 50th this year. Listen to the NPR recording here. Especially that one part where she mocks Dylan. Revenge eaten cold. 

And finally this, because we must.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

les poux sont retour

Just back from Europe, a whirlwind trip that will be processed through countless conversations, while trying new recipes and maybe a few blog posts. After taking so much in, I'm ready to put out. 

A Saturday afternoon at Marche aux Puce, the Paris flea market. There were some really great Eames rockers sitting in the rain, suspicious cartons of cigarettes for sale under the bridge, and countless thousands of vintage postcards. 
Most of all, though, there was this: 

Baby heads and googly eyes and tiny beakers, too!

Edit: Since arriving home, I've been reading Handmade in Paris, a lovely book by Pia Jane Bijkerk about all things fait main. I foolishly forgot to bring to Paris with me. It's worked out well though, because I discovered and fell in love with many of the featured galleries and store-fronts all by myself, and I'm finding out all sorts of background and histories of the places through the book. 
Including this flea market stall, which is connected with a store in Montmartre: Tombees du Camion. Which means "fell off a truck" in English. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

places i can be found

There are some secrets that can only be heard in unlikely voices, that only show themselves on the darkest nights, that can be found only in places you had no business being in the first place.

I found the following pasted on the sides of a Kleenex box.

The Dance
by Oriah

I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don't jump up and shout, "Yes, this is what I want! Let's do it!"
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.

Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiralling down into the ache within the ache.
And I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, everyday.

Don't tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away from making another wrong without abandoning yourself when you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.

Tell me a story of who you are,
And see who I am in the stories I am living.
And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.

Don't tell me how wonderful things will be . . . some day.
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly OK with the way things are right now in this moment,
and again in the next and the next and the next. . .

I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
What carries you to the other side of that wall,
to the fragile beauty of your own humanness?

And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept the clear, healthy boundaries that help us live side by side with each other, let us risk remembering that we never stop silently loving those we once loved out loud.

Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance, the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead make my heart whole again and again.

Show me how you take care of business
without letting business determine who you are.
When the children are fed but still the voices within and around us shout that soul's desires have too high a price,
let us remind each other that it is never about the money.

Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs you want our children's children to remember, and I will show you how I struggle
not to change the world, but to love it.

Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness and our undeniable belonging. Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words, holding neither against me at the end of the day.

And when the sound of all the declarations of our sincerest
intentions has died away on the wind, dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale of the breath that is breathing us all into being, not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.

Don't say, "Yes!"
Just take my hand and dance with me.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

and i thought only boring people got bored

Living every week like it's Shark Week over here. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

late summer

I'll always get more than I could put into it. 

The vines are creeping into the mown grass; the purple eggplant clings to the edge of the tomatoes; the lavender stretches its frail limbs, waving; the patchouli catches the breeze. 

Time to eat up, put up, fill up, before the coolness in the air changes everything all over again. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

ode on a boat

Sometimes living in this little city can be just right. 
(Taken last Wednesday, on a glorious night at the Island Grill)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

whoever you are, I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers

There's something to be learned from the generosity of basil. Just one day after a brutal pillaging, it's springing new leaves in all the right places, greener than ever and whispering "I hope you enjoyed your pesto."

Like a herbaceous Blanche DuBois, over here. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

summer '63 beats the heat

Heading to Kellerman's for the rest of the summer. 

Saturday, August 08, 2009

this kind of summer time.

hope you're weekend is spent running around an island with some nice bands and all your friends. see you on the boat!

Monday, August 03, 2009

On me dit que nos vies ne valent pas grand chose

"A hand cupped the heel of a woman who wished to climb a tree to see the stars more clearly. The men laughed into their tumblers. They all went swimming again with just the modesty of the night. An arm touched a face. A foot touched a stomach. They could have almost drowned or fallen in love and their lives would have been totally changed during any one of those evenings."

--Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

She doesn't play tricks.

  1. This is the way the espresso maker works. You fill the bottom with water to where the screw is. You put espresso coffee grinds into the strainer and fit it in the bottom. Screw the top on and put it on the element turned to high (a small element because my mom recently told me not to put small things on large elements). 
  2. My dad took me into the basement before I left after Christmas. Pieces of paper and photographs and projects on tables all around, laundry escaping baskets in the corner. "I have some books, do any of these interest you?" I take Alice Munro, George Elliot Clarke. 
  3. I read Who Do You Think You Are
  4. I take notes, notes about Alice Munro and Canadian women. Notes for a class discussion that will not happen, notes for an exam that is not coming, notes for what? I write notes by hand. 
  5. At the Salvation Army, I buy an impossibly full bag of buttons, colorful old buttons, all shanks (what are the chances of this?) with their proud fronts and practical backs. I have no plans for these buttons, there is no dress in the works that requires hundreds of shank buttons down the back, each its own size and colour. Buttons for what? 
  6. I'm won over by their packaging, a rinsed out and yellowing milk bag with two staples in the top. $2 spent on a rinsed out milk bag and no plans. When she lived with us, my nana would keep milk bags rinsed and folded in the bottom drawer in the kitchen.
  7. My beardy, thoughtful, 48-year old uncle does the 25 things meme on Facebook and mentions Alice Munro. My notes are probably wrong, then. I've been overfeminizing her, feeling at once too much claim on her and too much distance. I didn't know men liked Alice Munro. 
  8. Alice Munro has a pattern, writing shadows of the same characters and the same stories over and over. Practicing for perfect and welcoming suspicions of autobiography. This is what we have: rural poverty; graphic and vivid experiences of life/death/sex/shame; tweedy, gifted women students who are ahead of their time (here we may meet Atwood, cross paths with each other on a slushy street corner, both cold and shabby and waiting for the street car; ridiculously small adult luxuries that may grow into a strangely unfulfilling freedom or ill-fitting middle class comfort. 
  9. Gravity reverses and parts become a whole. Coffee pours up through the strainer into its holding chamber, and is poured into a pot. Two tablespoons of sugar, the rest of the milk. 
  10. Do I rinse out the bag? Rinse it out, let it dry, fold it over and keep it in a drawer for future purpose? What would I save a milk bag for? 
  11. After dinner, in the living room with our coffees and candles, my best friend practically whispers: "Alice Munro is boring." She says she feels like she has to go out outside and spit 3 times for saying it. Attracting the evil eye of Canadian literature. It's never occured to me, but it might be true. She might be boring. But then, that might just be the trick. 
  12. The sound the buttons make when poured into a pile. 
  13. The sound the coffee makes when poured into a mug. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

after all, aren't they the same thing?

I just read this sentence on a design blog, sfgirlbybay, and I think it might be the saddest and loveliest sentence of all:

"It was summer and we all looked so young."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

and it's like, and it's like um. and it's um like, like um.

Charles Spearin, a dude from Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene, invited some friends and neighbours over and did some interviews with them vaguely centred around happiness. Then he pulled out his Rolodex of the Super Talented and had his peeps put the interviews to music, following the beautiful cadences and intonations of his friends and neighbours. The CBC and I are now transfixed with the result.
Please buy the album here.
And check out the myspace.
I personally have a penchant for Vittoria (from who I stole title of this post).
The content is obviously uplifting, but this project is really interesting because of the way that it distinguishes the beautiful differences in each individual's voice, and the way that all of the tracks come together in a way that is reminiscent of a big family gathering or a church potluck. We have little babes and school-age children and young and old ladies and they're all present in the room taking turns talking about what happiness means while the musicians in the corner play along with the notes in their voices. So like the best potluck ever, where you get to fill up on white bean cassoulet* and genuine contentedness.

Pictured above is my own happiness project.

*To my knowledge, the Happiness Project does not actually ship along with a white bean cassoulet.

skating the humble path to zen canadian

(lovely pictures taken by lovely jodi)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

you've got outsider art by an artist

Mike Mills is my current visual love.
I like his stuff because it is:
-over- and under-wrought at the same time
-Miranda July likes it too
-he is from "Cali"

He designed the cover of Miranda July's book "No one belongs here more than you." I didn't know anyone designed it. I didn't realize it had been designed.

I thought it was just Helvetica Light.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

why we love barack obama

for reals, y'all.
happy inauguration 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

teen creeps

I've tried to hold it back. Cobrasnake, 10/31/08 

top of 2008

Some things that made 2008 for me. Maybe you too? 
  • the new Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario. Hometown architect makes good: that wood spiral Baroque Stair alone is enough, but the entire building reminds me of the way the behemoth redwoods appear to physically inhale and exhale on the West Coast. Not to mention Rubens' Massacre of the Innocents or anything else that actually lives inside. 
  • MGMT's Oracular Spectacular. "Time to Pretend" was practically inescapable this year, but I recommend listening to "Kids" at high volume at sunset in a sweaty apartment in mid-August. Make pad thai afterwards, and always, always share your beer. 
  • The National's "Fake Empire" playing at Obama's victory rally in Chicago. As the world waited for the man himself to appear, news cameras circled the crowd finding tear-jerker shots of Jesse Jackson, Oprah and random white people, this Brooklyn band's 2007 anthem played with a promo video called "Signs of Hope". Perhaps Obama's shout-out to the PBR-drinkers across America who gave him the election? Or maybe America just elected a president who likes good music (he is basically the first presidential candidate to use a Springsteen song when it was actually cool to do so) and some insight into the magic lyrics can carry. "Tiptoe through our shiny city/ with our diamond slippers on/ Do our gay ballet on ice/ bluebirds on our shoulders/ We're half awake in a fake empire." Either way, hearing it on CNN was das unheimliche or whatever.'s death rattle was heard by no one. 
  • Martha Wainwright's I Know You're Married, But I've Got Feelings Too. This album is a heart-stopper and a head-turner. You know this album is bad for you, but you have to be near it because it makes you feel so alive. 
  • Maybe it's just me--in fact, I'm quite sure it's just me, but nothing says "Great in '08" like that sexy sumo wrestler ad for the Subaru Forester, with Electric Six's "Danger High Voltage" in the background. 

Friday, January 02, 2009

current pressing concerns

  •  social ettiquette for end-of-year lists--and those who insist on referring to them as "listicles"
  • whatever got Europe's "Final Countdown" stuck in my head
  • discomfort with the appearance of something called "Shanghai Noodles"
  • Humphrey Bogart never once says "Play it again, Sam," in the film Casablanca
  • a missing pair of yellow polar-fleece mittens. If you've seen them, please post below as they were my warmest pair
  • the fact that Chris Lyon always ruins all our fun with his crap-ass music
  • a fortune cookie that read "Your tongue is your ambassador"
  • the fact that lists of any kind don't count as writing