Monday, 29 October 2007


Leather Cover

I've always been a big believer in being in the right place at the right time, and seeing what happens.

Sometimes, it hasn't worked out -- there's at least one reason why I've been divorced twice -- but sometimes, the results can be sublime.

In July, I went to see Dougie Maclean play: he's a fine Scotsman with a self-deprecating humour and a wonderful voice. One of the songs he did at the concert was based on the story of the Lewis Chessmen, an amazing archaeological find near Uig on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland in 1831.

While Dougie sang, he passed two pieces from his replica set through the audience. When the queen came to me, I clutched it tightly and felt something: with a traceable Scottish heritage that dates to almost the same time as the creation of the chess pieces, even the plastic casting reminded me of where I come from.

And so began the largest-scale book/fibre project I have attempted thus far.

With a working title of My Past Life, I've started a separate blog to document the process, which can be found here.

In case you were wondering, the picture at the top is fish leather, made from descaled perch that has been tanned, coloured, and given a smooth finish: it's pretty neat stuff, and I'm planning to use it for the cover of the book part of My Past Life.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

An Adventure

Sunday was a fun day: I finally had an available day to go to one of our local Flickr meets and had a great time hiking up on Nose Hill in the northwest part of town.

Rather than bore you, my faithful readers, with non-scintillating narration, here are a few pictures of our adventure, with more on my Flickr page.

Rosehips, the seed pods of the wild rose, the provincial flower of Alberta
End of season

There's an old mobile communications tower up on the hill and it's been recently repainted. Strangely enough, it's not covered in nasty graffiti, which was refreshing.
Can You Hear Me?

There's a lot of habitat restoration happening, with several areas blocked off near an old gravel pit.
Restoration Fence

When I first started taking pictures (with a Brownie Hawkeye), it was in black and white: Photoshop lets me relive those days by draining the colour from a shot taken at our post-hike hot beverage stop.
Bench at Heartland

Monday, 15 October 2007

The Blogging Lifestyle

Interesting how thoughts from disparate conversations in the past week have ended up revolving around blogs. It's just a bit more than seven months since I started this one, and while I haven't set any records for activity -- although I have a growing subscriber base, thanks! -- the fact is that if you're here, it's because you're a friend, you're interested in what I'm doing, or you searched for something I've talked about or information about Lasqueti Island.

In other words, I'm not controversial, and that's probably a good thing for my reputation, although not for my statistics.

When I was volunteering at WordFest here last week, I got into a number of conversations with several authors, including those who have been slammed by bloggers (Matthew Skelton, for instance), and those who have recently embraced the blogosphere, like Meg Tilly and Gail Anderson-Dargatz.

Meg and Gail (who are truly nice people, as well as dynamite writers) like the feedback from readers, and I tend to agree with them about the sort of people who actually make blogs a worthwhile and interactive vehicle: they are genuinely interested about what the artist is doing, and thoughtful and considerate in their responses.

Imagine, then, my surprise in reading Christie Blatchford's denigration of blogs over the weekend in The Globe and Mail. While I understand, and certainly sympathize with, her feelings of being "used" by a passing stranger who wanted a picture of her and her magnificent Bull Terrier Obie for his blog, tarring us all with the same nasty brush wasn't exactly appropriate either.

Perhaps more people should have gone to AIGA's seminar on Saturday entitled Blog O'Fear: Rules and Etiquette of Blogging....

Like it or not, blogs are here to stay: even WordFest designated Hal Niedzviecki as official blogger, although, um, it struck me as being more like one of the ones that Christie was complaining about: having seen him in "action," I'd mark that down too many beverages and not enough sleep.

Other than the folks mentioned above, I got to hand out food and drinks (working in the hospitality suite) and occasionally chat with some wonderfully funny and brilliant people, particularly A.L. Kennedy (her web contact page is a brief sample of her wicked sense of humour), talk knitting with Gil Adamson, and tell Dave Bidini how reading The Best Game You Can Name was the mandatory humour therapy I needed on my trip to Vancouver after my mother died.

And I can't finish this entry without at least mentioning Sylvain Meunier (merci beaucoup pour le livre!), Cary Fagan, Niels Hav, D.J. MacHale, Valerie Mason-John, Morganics, Richard Scrimger, Jane Urquhart, Elizabeth Hay, Anna Porter, and the Mexican tag-team of Minerva Margarita Villarreal and Daniel Sada.

Thanks all, you made my week.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

George of the Jungle

George of the Jungle

When I was at the Foothills Orchid Society's annual show a couple of weeks ago, I bought a nicely mounted Leptotes unicolor to bring home.

I used to belong to the group in the late 1980s, and have had an orchid fixation since grade six, when I was junior bridesmaid at my cousin's wedding and she had a big Cattleya in her bouquet, which I caught.

(We also had a lot of orchids, including a vanilla, in the greenhouse when I was a docent at the Queens Botanical Garden when I lived in New York in the early-mid 1980s.)

As he's native to the Amazon basin, I thought "George" was an appropriate name. He's obviously happy in his new home (a small open-topped aquarium I've put rocks in the bottom of and poured water on to provide much-welcome humidity here in arid Calgary), as his subsequent root growth on the back of his 1.5-inch wide (37.5 mm) mounting stick is very obviously green and he's developed a nice little flower spike.

Despite his size, his flowers will be almost as big as his stick -- pretty amazing for such a small plant! Stay tuned for more pictures as he blooms.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

And what will the weather be?

Fall in Calgary

Last Wednesday at dinnertime, we had wind, rain, ice pellets, thunder-snow, and then the sun broke through -- all in less than half an hour.

A busy week here: days are split between the chocolate shop and volunteering at Wordfest, with a little fibre thrown in. I've finished two more scarves for sale, have a third nearly done, and just some minor finishing on a shrug.

In the evenings, the National Hockey League is back up and running full time, and it appears that a new addition to our digital television service is a rather extensive set of channels running multiple hockey games gratis. Bummer (not!).

Had a nice wander yesterday on Thanksgiving Day (Canuck version: Columbus Day for you 'Murrican folks) and did a bit of typespotting: check out my Flickr photostream for the latest captures.

Just a reminder: the group show I'm in at Arts on Atlantic opens this Saturday, and I will be in attendance for the closing reception on Saturday, November 3, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Pop in and have a chocolate truffle or two.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Jimi was right....

The Urban Jungle

I was never much of a Doors fan, but I always liked the line No time to wallow in the mire from Light My Fire: the past week has been a mire-and-a-half.

Have I ever mentioned the love/hate relationship I have with artistic juries? It's been a lot more hate than love lately: I got word last week that three separate ones turned me down, the last two within four hours on Friday. A compensatory lunch of sushi with industrial-strength wasabi helped me cope with the first one, while a few cans of Rock Creek Cider (a product of Big Rock Brewery) were a fine anesthetic for the second.

Of course, I can rationalize all the jury decisions, and would probably sympathize with most of them, but at the time, they didn't make me feel very good.

So on Saturday, I went to the Foothills Orchid Society's Annual Show and Sale, which helped a lot. Got a couple of nice pictures of award winners, and had a lovely walk on a fall day through the far western edge of Confederation Park, where I snapped the picture at the top of this entry.

Spent some time yesterday volunteering at the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild booth at Word on the Street, which was interesting: I enjoyed the opportunity to show the work of some of the other local members, and exchange ideas.

C'mon, baby, light my fire....

Books for Sale

The shop is currently empty.