Saturday, 17 December 2011

Between a web of intrigue and a flash of light

Flare not-very-square

Packing up, as I suspected, took all the time available, and by the time I did the last-minute errands (pay the tenants insurance, make a bank run, cruise the duty-free shop in Calgary), I climbed about the red-eye flight to Toronto as exhausted as I've been at any other time this year.

On the way

Not much sleep on the flight either, with the guy next to me who wanted to read his book and kept his light on for most of the flight, and when I boarded the flight to Nassau with my litre-bottle of B&B in hand, I was too wired to even doze off. But with views of the Chesapeake Bay like the one above, who would want to sleep?


Part of the new morning routine is going for a walk: there are no sidewalks here, which is a real impediment to exploring the neighbourhood on my own, so going out on the roads before the traffic gets, ah, exciting, is the only way I'm getting much exercise. One of these afternoons, maybe I'll start swimming lengths of the pool instead.

Throw another conch on the fire

At least the migraine I developed on the flight to Toronto has ceased, although it took several days, and I'm starting to relax. I'd be doing more of that, but the first full day I was here, I met Del Foxton, a papermaker, and expat Canadian, who lives in Freeport but was coming to Nassau for an event, and Kim Smith, another expat Canadian artist and teacher, and over lunch, they persuaded me to submit a proposal for a fibre-themed show here.

Of course, the deadline was noon the next day, so I hastily wrote up a proposal, found a copy of my CV and some images used for previous submissions, and got my entry in on time. Part of my life will be spent doing that for awhile, and I'll have pictures up as I progress....

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


The keys to my tree

Echos abound here.

In every room.

All the art has been pulled from the walls, except for two calendars, put in boxes, and taken to storage.

Bookcases are empty.

Gone, not forgotten

Big Red has been towed away.

Closets are being packed up.

The tent, skis, golf clubs, camping kitchen, and bicycle are gone to storage.

My suitcase, travelling art kit, iPod, and laptop are organized, loaded, charged, tinkered with, and ready to become as disconnected as I am starting to feel.


I'll return to this, which is from the site-specific installation I will work on when I return.


The locates have been done since I shot this picture, measurements taken, and the materials set aside to work on when the days get longer.

Days are amazing, terrifying, too short / long / complex / frustrating.

At least I've quit hyperventilating and freaking out: it will all be packed and moved and done.

Hopefully without having to pull an all-nighter....

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Velocity of Change

Too Hot to Handle, my contribution for the CJSW Funding Drive art auction last week.

It's eight months tomorrow, and at some level, I'm both surprised and exceptionally grateful that I'm back in the studio, creating new work that's mostly book-related at this point, but which may change after New Year's. I'm not sure yet, but strangely not panicked about what the future holds.

And I'm being inundated by the proposals that keep showing up in my email from friends who think I'd be "perfect" for a certain show or residency, and other just straight-ahead offers of places to go and things to do, which I'm in the process of filling in the details for. I'm now at the point of looking at 2013 to organize much in the way of new opportunities.

That's not a complaint, just an observation.

View Point

Had a lovely weekend in Vancouver, BC to attend their biennial Wayzgoose: apart from a few morning showers when I arrived on Friday, and dreariness to start Saturday, it was a glorious weather time, as you'll note from the other pictures in this post. It was a chance to see new work from the assembled fine printers and illustrators, to show off lifeshift, which was well received by everyone I pulled it out for, and to talk shop with some very talented people.

But some of the best moments from the weekend came when I was out in White Rock, staying with my cousins -- the first time the three of us have been together in thirty years -- and spending time walking along the beach with camera in hand. It's the last serious break I'm going to have before making like a hockey player and getting the puck out of town in December.


Apart from several herons, like this one having Sunday brunch, I also spotted a red-throated loon, which I've now added to my life list. I've already got a list of birds I'm likely to spot in the Bahamas over Christmas, many of which I've never seen before, so there will be more of those pictures appearing both here and on my Flickr pictures.

Moving further down the beach

I'm not sure what was more interesting: watching the herons fishing, or when they took to flying further along the beach.

I can catch them!

So many opportunities to come, but I can't, and won't, catch them all....

My horoscope for today reads Stop thinking about all the things that might go wrong in your life and start thinking about all the things that will probably go right. Your mind is a powerful tool: what you think about today is what you create for yourself tomorrow.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Forever Autumn

(Fans of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, released in 1978 and a truly excellent adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel, will recognize the lyrics.

If you don't know the work, it is available on iTunes: highly recommended, although if you can find a vinyl copy, it comes with a great enclosure. The narration is read by the late Richard Burton, which is reason enough to listen, but the prog rock music is pretty darned good too.

If you like that sort of thing....)

The Rubicon, or not
The summer sun is fading as the year grows old
And darker days are drawing near
The winter winds will be much colder
Now you're not here.

Last weekend was so beautiful, but yesterday was cold, windy, and there were scattered rain showers. A typical Calgary fall day, in other words.

It's been a busy couple of weeks here: I've been out a lot, which is unusual. A job interview, some gallery openings, a lecture, a conference, some unexpected good news ( What I Felt returning from its two-year tour with the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Travelling Exhibition (TREX) show in immaculate condition), and a lot of end-of-September deadlines, all of which were met.

Now onto the next set, starting with a piece I have three days to build. Thankfully, I don't need to collect anything to do it, I have made sketches and done almost everything I need to do on the computer to finish it, and it's not a ginormous construction project.

I watch the birds fly south across the autumn sky
And one by one they disappear
I wish that I was flying with them
Now you're not here.

And I've also started the process of making like a hockey player and getting the puck out of here. My holiday vacation ticket is in hand, I've lined up a storage space for my worldly goods, and started counting down the days.

What remains
Like the sun through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on a breeze you blew away.

That doesn't mean it's all been smooth sailing, of course, but after seven months, there are moments that I almost feel like I'm not teetering on the edge of the big black hole.

Watercolour wash
Through autumn's golden gown we used to kick our way
You always loved this time of year
Those fallen leaves lie undisturbed now
'cause you're not here.

If you want to see more of the pictures I've taken this fall, have a look at the entire set on Flickr.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


RCMP Musical Ride warm-up

I could spend hours watching horses -- in fact, it's hard to keep me away from them, which is probably why I like my volunteer gig down at Stampede more than ever, now that I get to go back and wander through the barns.

There's an old picture of me being put on a pony and led around a ring, next to my aunt and uncle's home in Surrey, BC: it was the summer I was three, and it was my very first ride. I still remember how I excited I was that day, and it never changes or grows old every time I'm near, or on, a horse.

RCMP Musical Ride warm-up

For me, watching the RCMP Musical Ride do their warm-up was the highlight of last Sunday's adventure to Spruce Meadows. Not that show jumping isn't OK -- it is -- but to see these lovely horses gracefully trotting and cantering, especially without the music, was the highlight of the day there.

RCMP Musical Ride warm-up

O Canada!

And making the transition from a rather desultory walk to a trot and perhaps even a gentle canter has been in evidence at home and in the studio as well. I had my in-laws out for a too-short visit right before my adventure to Spruce Meadows, thankfully with excellent weather, and completed, at long last, a small artist book last week.

lifeshift #2

lifeshift isn't exactly the book I started out to make: it was originally going to be partnered with I will wait for you in the forest. But when forest was accepted into the Alberta Society of Artists touring show, and sadly, irrepairably damaged as much as my life as well, the book now stands on its own.

lifepath #3

There will be three copies when I'm finished -- the punching of all those individual little holes is taking a toll on my hands -- with different found leaves on each cover, and enclosed in a small box with a drawer. It's the featured book in my upcoming advert in Artist Book News, and I'll be putting together a small video of how it works shortly. It's double-bound, with a handmade wire spiral binding on each of the two long edges, and the pages are interleaved.

It felt great to be back working with paper, words, and images again, and I'm sure there will be more to come.

My most commonly used expression lately seems to be "I don't know," although to be more accurate, perhaps it should be "I don't know the specific details yet."

But I am working on them....

Friday, 2 September 2011



Calgary has an annual festival known as Globalfest that was held recently -- lots of multicultural entertainment (such as this flamenco dancer I caught on the beer garden stage) and a different country invited to create a fireworks display on selected evenings.

I had gone, back in its early days, when the cultural component was scattered around various community centres, but it seemed like such a hassle. The organizers must have thought so too, because it's now all in one place (Elliston Park, in southeast Calgary).

Fireworks #4

The night that the Phillipines were providing the combustible entertainment, a friend of mine rang in the afternoon, asking if I wanted to come along, as they had an extra ticket. So, since I lead such an unexciting social life, I said yes and took the camera along.

A good decision, as it turned out, as they ended up winning the People's Choice award: I certainly had a good time, although the press of the crowd got to me after awhile.

Fireworks #5

And today marks six months' of being alone: it's not one of my better days, but that shouldn't be surprising. As I wrote in a show proposal the other day:

Instead of looking further down the road to where I want to go, my work is concentrating on the never-ending now, trying to inch forward between the black hole of despair and the mountains of yarn, fibre, and paper I have accumulated. An artist’s life is not a tidy one, but my drive is to at least clean up some of the looser ends before leaping of the next artistic precipice, creating new works that incorporate the past and the present.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Decompression Zone


Since my last post, too much time has been spent in the realm of anything that can go wrong, will: having to tell yet more people about my sudden change of personal status, vehicle issues, receipt of the autopsy, dangling at the end of a telephone trying to book a second job interview, and email snafus, for starters.

Being able, if only for a brief interlude, to remove myself from some of that, was welcome, especially as I was accompanied by two excellent and unconditionally loving pooches.

Go away!

I am glad they were not along for a small walk I took when I ran into this beautiful Swainson's hawk however: one that obviously was not impressed with me.

Busy as a ....

And yes, I'm still labouring under the shadow of disconsolation, although those times are becoming less pervasive and frequent: I can only hope they continue to recede. Work continues on upcoming projects, with details to be revealed soon: with this bee as my guide, I'm applying myself in the studio.

Camelid combination

And outside of it as well, since I prefer to spin in the living room: this is the other major project I wanted to spin for the Tour de Fleece this year. It's two plies of cinnamon llama, one ply of dark brown alpaca, one ply of light tan Dromedary camel (formerly the property of the late heiress Doris Duke: there's a long story about this stuff I should write about some day).

Because of the varying amounts I had of each fibre -- 113 grams of llama, and 50 grams each of the alpaca and camel -- I eventually ran out of the camel. So I took the biggest bobbin of llama, wound it on my hand (Andean plying), turning the yarn into three plies of llama and one of alpaca, until the alpaca ran out, and then did the same thing with the other bobbin of llama.

Like most camelid yarns, it's not as long as a yarn spun with wool with the same sort of plies and wraps per inch would be -- and I haven't measured it either, so I'm not exactly sure how much I've got to use for a future, and unknown, project. But it's pretty stuff, and will be interesting worked up.


And then there's the two ounces of Jacob roving from Snook Farm that I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in 2008 that I spun up as well. Lovely to spin, and delightfully soft since I washed it. Another mystery project ahead for this, I'm sure.

Well, back to work: I've got a show proposal due for the end of the month, and two book projects on the hop for upcoming deadlines. It's only been since the last blog post that I've finally managed to feel artsy most of the time, and much more productive doing something other than autonomous knitting.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

It's My Turn To Drive

Driven to the margin of error
Driven to the edge of control
Driven to the margin of terror
Driven to the edge of a deep, dark hole

Healing continues. I'm amazed that I'm actually starting to be able to listen to more music without turning into a hysterical blubbering mass.

Oddly enough, I'm listening to a great deal of RUSH, thanks, I'm sure, in large part to one of the digital movie channels running Beyond the Lighted Stage fairly often. They started out just after I began university many years ago, and I've been aware of them in the "oh, they're Canadian, Geddy Lee has this high voice, and they're fabulous musicians" kind of way, but I really never sat down and listened to them.

I have now, and become a big fan. Driven, with the chorus lyrics by drummer Neil Peart I've quoted above, has turned into my anthem of survival. The truck (also known as the big black hole with four wheels into which has been poured a lot of money) is back on the road, and it's given me more than a modicum of freedom which I've desperately needed.

Saddle bronc 3

Cowboy on the right has heard the horn, signalling the end of his eight-second ride on a saddle bronc, and is about to dismount with the assistance of the "pick-up man"

Well, another bout of craziness (aka The Calgary Stampede) is over: as usual, I did my collection of volunteer hours down at the grounds. Mostly good weather this year, with it getting warm -- for Calgary -- near the end.


My favourite part of Stampede is getting to hang out with the farm animals. This little cutie is a six-week-old Cheviot lamb, who was as friendly as could be, as was his/her ewe, who was always close by. It looks like next year, I'll be splitting my time between the Heritage Cabin and Sheep Showcase, giving demos and telling city folks about sheep and fleeces.

Dust devils

Life isn't as much of a whirlwind as it was back in the spring, even though I haven't posted for almost a month. I'm still crazy-go-nuts-busy, now with the second set of deadlines for residencies and such, as the first batch I've sent out haven't provided me with the opportunities I was hoping for.

That being said, I am applying for things that take just one person: in some ways, it's not much different than applying for a job where there's but one gig to be had, and they are attracting folks from around the world. I'm doing better in them, making it further into the jurying process (or so I've been told by some), but not nailing the big prize.


And then there are the other plans for survival. The best part of all is that I no longer see the "deep, dark hole" at the end of July that I had seen for far too long in March.

And April.

And May.

And the overwhelming better part of June....

Project #1

But progress is being made on other fronts. It's my fourth Tour de Fleece, a spin-along event on Ravelry that parallels the Tour de France. I had three projects I wanted to finish by the end, which is next Sunday, July 24, and here's the first one "before": 100 grams of moorit Shetland roving surrounding a 2 oz. batt of merino/alpaca/mulberry silk/bamboo/flash.

Project #1 completed

And now the "after." This is a fairly nice skein of finished yarn, but I also have 75 yards or so of three-ply all Shetland that I'll use as trim.

Project #2 is spun but not washed, and I'm not finished spinning and plying Project #3. All will be revealed, eventually....

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Feeling my way

Unable to focus

Life has been a rollercoaster lately.

One thing I've really enjoyed of late is being able to get out and just take pictures for fun -- the ones flanking this paragraph are from a local Flickrmeet -- and it was just wonderful to be able to go, take pictures, talk about taking pictures, and have a few laughs with people I know and who wouldn't freak out if (and especially, when) I'd break down and lose it.

Icelandic poppy and furry friend

All I had really been taking pictures of lately was the installations for my Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre show...

A Year in the Life

... and fulfill my commitment to install "spring" (the upper left picture in the montage), demonstrate how I spun the yarn on my drop spindle, and talk to the school groups that visit.

Grade twos, take 2

But that doesn't mean life has been all sweetness and light. I'm still learning to pace myself, and found out the hard way that I can't do a lot of public interaction before dissolving into a babbling puddle.

That being said, it was useful, at some level, to push the emotional envelope, and while I felt like I descended back down a long, slippery slope, it really only lasted 48 hours.

Tomorrow is another milestone: it's D.'s birthday. The tradition in our home is that the birthday person gets whatever they want for dinner, and I decided that I could really only deal with that tonight. Leftover BBQ lamb in fresh wholewheat pitas, homemade tzaziki, and Grower's Extra Dry Apple cider is a pretty tasty dinner. (Didn't do Greek Festival last weekend, though: it was our usual birthday celebration adventure.)

If I can watch any part our favourite movie on DVD tomorrow night, it will be a real accomplishment: I actually listened to part of the music soundtrack last night, which I wasn't initially sure was such a great idea, but it's helped the healing process.

Although I'd be lying if I said that I don't still feel about as skittish and fragile as this young mule deer doe, who was having a lovely time by the truck when I left Fish Creek yesterday.

Doe, a deer

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Conditional Sentences


The Government of Canada says that (D)uring a conditional sentence, the offender is supervised and must follow the rules set by the judge or risk going to prison.

There are days in the last three months -- and it's been that long since I've been alone -- that I feel that my overwhelming emotions may have offended some, and that I've definitely needed supervision.

But I am doing better. Mostly. And I'm finally starting to go out and be a bit more social, which is a major shift.

Being productive instead of paralyzed is a refreshing change, at least most days, although since the pendulum of emotions has swung to the antithesis of numb, I sometimes wonder if it's an improvement.

In one of those wonderful dual meanings, a "conditional sentence" can also refer to at least six options, and I've rung every change from past real through past unreal, present real, present unreal, future real, and my personal choice future unreal.

I think it became my least favourite, however, the day I rediscovered a normal range of human emotions, and let them run wilder than should be legal: it's amazing what tricks the human mind can play on its owner....

Shades of Jackson Browne

My time at EPCOR was great, even with the rainy weather of last week and the overwhelming number of children in the building,

(Someone asked me "don't you like children?" Sure I do: boiled, fried, with a cream and Dijon mustard sauce, or lemon and capers....)

and I couldn't help but get emotional when I went in two days ago to bundle up the most improbable piece of knitting I've made, at least this year. And once I get the studio cleaned up so I have a place to string it up to dry, I'll get it washed and measured properly. Until then, I'm guessing that it's closer to 30 meters than I originally thought.

PR for Simplicity of Ritual

If anything has cheered me up lately, it's been the growing number of visitors to the blog (I guess it helps when I post something, right?) and the number of knitting-related websites that picked up the story in Calgary Herald, from the knitting section of, KnitIdeas, and especially Amy Singer's Knitty.

Installation A2

The most surprising place I've discovered some of my other installation work was this piece on Art Condos, a blog in Toronto, with one of my first cone cosy installations. Is that cool or what?

Ghostly garter snakes

Still not sure what is going to happen next in my life -- at least, after the ASA Forest Show finishes its run at the Leighton Centre, my solo photography show of knitted seasonal installations closes at the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre (that's the "spring" part of the show above, before I installed and photographed them), and Stampede, but I'm cranking out job applications and residency proposals, so someone's bound to want me somewhere.

At least, that's Plan A.

There's also a Plan B, since I'm obsessive that way, which is good news: not so long ago, I didn't have either.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


The space
Day -2: May 5 early

Life is full of rituals.

Hello, my name is....

How do you do?

Excuse me, but....

Oh, sorry....

Everyone's life has them, and some (not that I'll mention names) have more than others: ritual is what psychiatrists call what obsessive-compulsive personalities have to do to survive.

And now we need needles and yarn
Day -1: May 6 late

I've been depending on my daily routine/ritual to get through the last 70-plus days: it's kept me relatively clean and fed, although the home, until the last week or so, um, definitely wasn't the former.

But I'm wasn't sure it was making much of a difference emotionally until the last two weeks, which I've spent my weekdays in a very organized fashion, knitting five solid hours a day, repeating a very simple pattern, and having that structure imposed on my day.

Media Alert #1
Day 5: May 13 mid-afternoon

Truth be told, I've appreciated it, as well as sitting in a light-filled glass box, with minimal decoration and interruption, and, perhaps most importantly it has helped me focus my thoughts for when I'm outside the box, literally.

Media alert #2
Day 6: May 16 late lunch

The only downside has been the earworms I've found myself being sucked into, and some of them have been just incessant. (Trust me, until you've had Olivia Newton-John's Please Mister Please running through your brain for hours on end, you don't know what torture is.)

Day 10: May 20 late

But the project down at EPCOR Centre has gone well, with the knitting finished dead on schedule, the photographs framed and delivered to Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre, and the arrival of the invitation for The Forest Show arriving at The Leighton Centre, where it opens on June 4.

I've got some ideas for new work that I want to do and send off to calls in autumn, a list of residencies to apply for, and, finally, a lack of constant hysteria in my brain.

Life still ain't great, but it doesn't feel like it's permanently oppressive either.

Books for Sale

The shop is currently empty.