Sunday, December 19, 2010


My sister Kate drew this picture of me drawing on the GO train yesterday. That girl was born with a pencil in her hands and has left a little trail of paper clippings and paint brushes in her wake ever since. Love her.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

have you reckon'd the earth much?

Today was the first snow fall that stuck around for a bit.
Now that it's stopped and the sun is shining, the whole backyard is shimmer and glow.
Welcome, day.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

still standing by the tracks

Wild and wonderful things found in sunlit corners of a salvage and restoration yard in downtown Cobourg on Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

the rambling quest

As someone who has been know to fly north for the summer, may I highly recommend that we all take a minute to listen to Michael Hurley's Wildegeeses from Ida Con Snock.

It's only in the wildness can you name her
It's only in the wildness can you tame her

Thursday, October 14, 2010

how bright the stars, how dark the night

Some time ago, I was sitting on a picnic blanket on the grass surrounded by many of the people I love most in the world, and Garnet Rogers was playing this song, and it was about as perfect a moment as I've ever had and I wept and smiled and there are pictures to prove it.

Some time later, I was in a hospital bed in a very small old town, and my parents called and said they were going out to see Garnet Rogers. I'd lost my voice, but I whispered "You should you ask him to play 'Night Drive'."

I spent that lonely night looking out the window at a big hill where the sky played out its many colours and slipped into darkness and dim stars shone feebly in the northern summer light, and I hadn't seen the sun go down for months and I was on morphine and I heard guitar loops all night long.

They did ask him to play the song, and he "seemed quite touched," and he played it for me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

to warm our hands and find our way

This all seems like it was a long time ago, when it really was nothing of the sort.
It was the end of last year and the beginning of this one. But we've come a long way this year.

A late night, a leafy salad, a cup of something homegrown and special, and a furry cat hiding in the corners of a very sweet friend's home.
Every time I hear her sing the words "a place to start out from," I think of this night.

It's getting dark very early and the wind is blowing strong and the snow is sneaking in the cracks. In the cold days of an arctic autumn (which seem quite a bit like winter to a southern soul), warm memories of dear ones and delicious meals do the trick like nothing else.
Can't wait to see you.

*I also think of my dear friend Jodi who took all of these gorgeous photos.

Monday, October 11, 2010

my neck of the woods

If one looks closely, it's possible to see (in no particular order): a fifth birthday, a herd of caribou, the hand of Franklin, generations living in harmony, the edges of the outside world and more than one moment of wonder and gratitude.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

surely enough water under the bridge

but can we all just take a minute to die laughing at how freaked out I look, and the immense depth of gravel in which the company vehicle is embedded?

it all ended up fine, i swear.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

polar bear dip

like, literally.
74 degrees N

Sunday, August 29, 2010

this is how i work

“What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose-knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful, that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through.

I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art.

The main requisite, I think, on reading my old volumes, is not to play the part of a censor, but to write as the mood comes or of anything whatever; since I was curious to find how I went for things put in haphazard, and found the significance to lie where I never saw it at the time.”

Virginia Woolf
(And Alfred Einstein's desk.)

dairy dreams

Dairy Queen

This photograph means a thousand things and a thousand questions that stay with me long after I walk away.

I'll leave it at this.
At what point do people just start eating their ice cream inside the place where they bought it, where there are tables and chairs and other people we do not know?

Further reading on Justine Kurland is highly recommended for her ways of thinking about: girlhood, nomads, open roads, the Wild West, running away, mamahood, landscape and trains.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Reese House designed by Andrew Gellar in 1955 in Sagaponack, NY. Credited with creating the A-frame house trend that lasted from the mid-fifties through the seventies. And living for eternity with me. I am possibly super not cool.

Allow me to introduce my love for the A-frame house. Its inspirations are as follows:

  • Al Purdy's triangular dream house in Ameliasburgh, ON. It was beautifully crafted by his own hands and was kind of a scene of a literary generation (ow a trust has been created to try to preserve the home as a heritage site and a Writer-In-Residence program). Run out and buy The Al Purdy A-Frame Anthology. Lots of Al, lots of A-frame.

  • Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter. Entirely beautiful movie with amazing set design including a 70s-tastic open concept A-frame with a jungle of plants everywhere and a mattress on the floor.

  • general philosophies I have on the merits of roasting one's own coffee in a cast-iron skillet on a woodstove.

There is a wonderful, crumbling A-frame house here in Resolute. It's been long abandoned and there are rumours that it was never finished. These days it's mostly a place for kids to get in trouble (and/or seriously maimed), but I love it simply because of its shape.

I know, right. Shut up and get a tumblr.

If you also have way too much time on your hands, I totally recommend reading this interview with The Sweet Hereafter's costume designer.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


The truth has been slowly whispering its way into my heart: I'm not one of them.

I might not be a northerner. Not a thirty-years in lifer, and probably not going to be one. Although I always wished I might be. You know those people with their romantic and rugged austerity in the face of those two mighty arctic elements: nature and time. For me, the words "polar night" are a bit scary.

At the root of the matter is the fact that I'm a farmer at heart (in whatever context the word could apply: I am a naturally-inclined homesteader, I am interested in planting seeds and gathering harvest and the husbandry of many good things), and this is a place with no farms.

That said, I'm not ready to retreat south of 60 yet. I've enjoyed many experiences and gifts in my arctic sojourn so far, and here are a few things I've learned:

  • I'm living in a town with a population of 200. This has taught me the safety of being known and knowing. The joy of acknowledging casual acquaintanceship. The excitement of being welcomed back.

  • the pleasures of living without a lot of stuff are many. I'm currently living out of two suitcases' worth of books, craft supplies and clothing, and doing just fine.

  • the pleasures of living without a lot of stuff to buy are also many. The only store in Resolute is about the size of my apartment's living room. This is not a downside.

  • learning to read and enjoy the sky just as much as the land.

  • Just a few telephone lines and the sunset and the horizon for miles. I don't even believe there's such a thing as a silhouette below the treeline anymore.

  • if you dress properly (as opposed to fashionably), winter is really fun.

  • wild and local food sources need to be protected as vital sources not just of nutrition, but of culture and community-building.

Now that I've had some time to think about it, I might just stay.

Photo of the Louis Saint Laurent, a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker that is currently breaking ice on its way here. By Yann Arthus-Bertran

Saturday, May 22, 2010

you're my blue sky

And they said everything would be white...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

six degrees of resolution

I can't see them, but I can hear the sled dogs tied up out on the shore howling along the wind. Fat flakes are limiting the view out the window to a hundred feet or so, and both flights out of town have been cancelled. It's a good day for staying in.

After four flights, and four days of travelling (I spent two Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut), I finally made it to Resolute--and was promptly thrown into busy job of running a hotel.
Though we're tied down at the place most days, our job comes with the benefit of meeting all kinds of people who are travelling through for a huge variety of reasons: scientific research, personal expeditions, government business, sport hunting, etc. This kind of traffic is nothing new in Resolute--it's been a key location in high arctic activities for as long as such a thing has existed.

Par example: Resolute is named after a the HMS Resolute, a British naval ship dispatched to search for the lost Franklin expedition. The HMS Resolute was trapped in pack ice and abandoned in May 1854. Eventually thawing out, the crewless ship floated out towards Baffin Island, where it was found by an American whaling ship. The US government fixed her up and sailed her home as a little gift for England, where the ship was put back into naval service until 1879. When it became unseaworthy, Queen Victoria did another good deed and had the broken up ship built into two desks, one as a present for President Hayes, the other for Buckingham Palace.

Which brings us to the Resolute desk, used by all but 2 presidents (and they were LBJ and Nixon...).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

have love, will travel

This is my amazing sister Emmy and I yesterday, in the sunshine.
I'm moving to the high Arctic. Her road's going a different way.
I don't know where or when we'll see each other again, but I can't wait.
We'll always be close.

PS. For the next six months, this blog is going change in ways I can't predict. The next report will be from Resolute.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

with me far away

Who was to know what should come home to me?
Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Who knows but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?

I'm in my favourite place, which is actually no place, it's a place between places and it's always on the move.
I'm with a comrade who is certainly the most earnest, he in antique military garb heading out of the wind to re-load his camera.

So now I'm here alone in the greatness, in the wind, in the sound of ice and water turning into each other, and all I can think of is this, and I can't get the order, and I can't get the words, but what I have is this boat in this no-place and Walt Whitman in the sunset.

The similitudes of the past, and those of the future;
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings--on the walk in the street, and the passage over the river;
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me far away;
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them;
The certainty of others--the life, love, sight, hearing of others.

Walt Whitman
86. Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
Leaves of Grass

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

today in songs that sound exactly the same



This is way closer than that whole Men at Work/Kookaburra drama. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

city of lights, city of love

rue Cler sunset
evening lovers at Place de la Concorde
love birds at Jardin Des Plantes
Rodin's rose