Monday, 29 December 2014

Another Auld Lang Syne

Although I have a family connection to Robert Burns (one of my ancestors published his first collection of poems), this is a favourite too. As far as I can determine, this is one of the last video performances of Dan Fogelberg doing his, not long before he died.

Yet another brilliant songwriter gone too soon.

O Christmas Tree

As mentioned in the previous post, I put up our tree this year: it was hard but not impossible. I remembered where and when we bought it, and why, and all those other silly details that you never think you're going to recall.

I know what I listened to the last time I was putting it up, how we celebrated our anniversary, and what we planned for the spring that never happened. I've cried looking at it, thinking about all of those things as well.

But I'm glad I put it up: it was time.

One of many

The best, but also hardest, part was pulling out the ornaments: I still have two glass balls that my parents received as a wedding present, and there are several projects I made as a child. I always wrap them carefully and was glad to see they survived moving and handling more than usual over the last few years.

New owl on the block

That being said, this holiday season was also time to make some new traditions: this little fellow and his five friends came as Boxing Day gift from a friend. It spins around madly when you fire up a tealight at the base, and it's both cute and kitschy at the same time. I like it. A lot.

Looking ahead

There's another light at the end of my tunnel as well, and a glass that is half-full. I'm as infinitely grateful for the new friends I've made this year as much as the old ones I've been able to let go from my past: perhaps the most important change that has happened this year has been the ability to not only make that choice, but to also be happy in doing so.

For the first time since, there is so much to look forward to in my life.

(And so I finish off my 200th blog post: it will be eight years in March since I began this adventure. I'm not sure I ever thought I'd still be doing this, or have written this many, or have had anything to say: there are people who probably think I haven't said anything useful at all either, but I digress.)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Moving On

My shooting box - outside

In the last few years, December has become one of those exceptionally hectic months for me, and this year is no exception.

Among other things, it's the time of year for parties, and as much as I enjoy my friends and good food, I quickly get "partied-out" and as last night was the last of the giant en masse gatherings, I'm grateful for the return of peace and quiet in my life.

It's also a time of deadlines for various art-related things (gallery submissions and residencies especially) and with doing more three-dimensional work, I have been in need of a special photography set-up to let me document the new works and send them off with the proposals.

My shooting box - inside

The solution was to build a shooting box (or studio box, as they are sometimes called): they can be expensive if you buy one at a high-end camera shop, but thanks to Jeff Rodier, whose talk I attended a few weeks ago as part of the Visual Arts Alberta-CARFAC professional development series, I discovered it isn't that difficult to build one of my own, which I finished the other day.

I started with a good solid box -- this one has double-walled corrugated cardboard -- cut the openings (they aren't perfectly square, but that's OK!), and reinforced the back, the top of the side openings, and the front side edges with some interior struts that came with the box. After that, I cut up a sheet of Plaskolite I salvaged from the garbage at work (it had corners knocked off and couldn't be sold), securing them over the windows to diffuse the light.

Final touch was to add the sheet of grey paper on the inside, curved to produce a seamless background.

The Future Through The Lens of The Past

Given I only hastily cobbled up the lighting for it -- a combination of natural daylight on the right, fluorescent (cool white) and warm incandescents on the top, and a warm white LED on the left, and tinkered a bit with the white balance on my camera, I'm very pleased with how the pictures turned out.

Neruda's Nest

The other thing December has become known for in my life lately has been as a time to move: it's much less stressful this year, as I'm not having to pack up everything, for a change, and instead of having Christmas somewhere unfamiliar, I'll be in a kitchen I know like the back of my hand, cooking a whole turkey, and having a day of quietude.

I can hardly wait.

Books for Sale

The shop is currently empty.