Sunday, August 30, 2009

7 years ago

I had the news on and in passing I heard the name of a former classmate from the Red Deer College Fine Arts program. Of course I stopped what I was doing to see if it was the same girl I knew and what she was doing on the news. It was the girl I knew, Nicole Hoar had gone missing near Prince George while hitch hiking to see her sister.

I didn't know Nicole very well, we shared classes and spoke here and there, I admired her work and I admired her quiet maturity. While she was not a part of my immediate circle of friends, (Nicole took ceramics and painting while I focused on sculpture and printmaking) she never seemed to keep herself apart from those who were not a part of hers. One night I drove her home after a late night working in the studios.

After two years at RDC Nicole transferred to another fine arts program and that was the extent of our relationship. This is what happens in life, people pass in and out some make a big impression stay in your life for years others make a brief appearance before moving on to other experiences. Sometimes you keep in touch, sometimes you only think of them in passing.

At the time, I couldn't imagine what her family was going through. I only knew that I wanted to know what had happened to her and in the best case scenario I wanted Nicole to be OK and home soon.

Time went on and Nicole's name joined the roster of women; victims who had disappeared along what is known as the Highway of Tears here in BC. Now that I'm a mother I can fully imagine the nightmare that Nicole's family has been living. It's the worst possible thing that could happen to a family, to your child.

Nicole's name has popped up in the news again recently. This time it seems that there is a break in the case and a search has been made on an acreage close to the last place that Nicole was last seen. The results of this search are not being made public; but, I'm hoping that if nothing else there will be some closure for the Hoar family. At the very most I hope that whatever they've found will also lead to closure for the families of the other women.

For me, Nicole will always be that talented girl I went to school with, the girl with the Brown hair and blue eyes, the girl who created the amazing ceramic torso that looked like it was made of bricks, the girl who I drove home late one night when she asked, because I happened to live close by. I know that she was a million more things to those people who knew and loved her better than I did and my heart and thoughts go out to those people.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reply and kind of a rant or is it a motivational speech?

For those of you who read the comments on this blog, my latest post had a comment from Le ShallowGal, one of my favourite Blog Authors (as a huge Terry Pratchett fan I enjoy most writings that include humorous footnotes SG's posts are no exception. Go check out her blog now. It's OK I'll still be here when you get back).

In her comment, SG mentioned both her love of art supply stores and her lack of artistic ability. I replied to her Comment via email but I felt that my reply would also make some pretty good blog fodder too so here's an expanded reply that kind of went a little ranty and hopefully ended a little more motivational as opposed to a demanding lecture...

I can't even begin to tell you how many people say that they don't have a single creative bone, artistic bone, crafty bone.... in their body whenever they find out that I'm one of those "arty" people. The fact is that everyone is creative, case in point? Remember when you were a kid? a new box of crayons was a goldmine.

As we grow older, we're trained to consider art to be of lesser importance than other aspects of education. When budgets are cut, the first things that are threatened with the budget scissors are the art classes. It's kind of sad and it kind of makes me angry and it kind of puts me in the mind of home-schooling the Peanut so that we can keep the visual art as a big part of her education instead of slowly eliminating it as she grows older.

There is a misconception that creative talent is something that you have to be born with and that there are people out there who can just pick up a pencil and create master works from day one; and there are lucky souls out there who pick up a pencil at age two and can draw photo- representative images by age 13, their name is Picasso (this I think explains why we have cubism. The man had mastered rendering and got bored...) What we don't think about is that these people also work at what they do. Some people are more natural at it than others but the creativity still has to be nurtured. Natural talent is something that we are all born with.

What I'm getting at is that the Artistic bone can be cultivated. When I started art school I couldn't draw at all; some introductory art classes helped me learn, advanced classes helped me to grow and continuing to draw keeps my skill sharpened.

I'd suggest that the next time you find yourself haunting the art supply store to pick up a nice sketchbook and a pencil, even if you use it to just doodle swirly lines and tic tac toe's while you're talking on the phone, you can feel all artistic and creative without too much risk. After a while you might feel confident enough to graduate up to paints... or not; just don't let the fact that you can only draw a stick man stop you from drawing a stick man.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

branching out or at least that's the plan

Saturday we went on a family adventure to the Glass Art Supply store in Vancouver.

We'd been talking about going there for months now. I've been playing with a few ideas in the back of my mind and thought there was no time like waiting a good four months to go out and get the supplies for a new project.

In my defense, the Peanut keeps us pretty busy most of the time, and up until a little while ago she needed needed needed a nap in the middle of the day. Don't get me wrong, she still needs the nap most days but it's a little easier to miss it now that she's a little older.

I used some birthday money to get myself a soldering iron, flux and solder for some new projects and I couldn't be more excited. I'm in a bit of a productive stage right now and I'm hoping that I keep up the momentum. So what am I working on? Well, something new for PeanutButterPie, but I think I'd like to keep that under my hat until I'm ready to unveil them.

I have to say that we had a fabulous experience with the staff in the store. I took a Summer Series course in Stained Glass over 10 years ago so I had some idea of what I needed and what the process for my projects would be, but I wanted some advice. The sales lady walked us through everything, gave us options, suggestions and extra information. All of it was useful and pleasant.

When I worked at the Art Supply company their focus was on customer service and I often find other stores don't share the same attitude. Happily this was not the case. The place also offers classes in stained glass as well as for glass slumping and fusing. seeing the facilities got a few more bees in my bonnet...

Are you thinking of branching out with your creative processes? have some new things on the go? let me know, I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

sky gazing

today was one of those days that rest in the memory and drift up with fond recollection. Idyllic. looking up into the summer blue sky and searching pictures in the feather light clouds. This is what summer is made of. Well this and popsicles for lunch. (whole fruit, tofu popsicles but they were frozen and yummy and we ate them for lunch)

Monday, August 17, 2009

How my weekend went

and how I wanted it to go were two different things. This weekend was the Birthday Bonanza weekend. My birthday and two parties all on Sunday

The plan for our weekend was this:

Saturday during the day we had earmarked for getting our place ready for the BBQ garden party the husband had planned to celebrate my birthday. Late afternoon was for the party and evening was for more celebration preferably with a jam session and cake.

Sunday; my actual birthday was a double birthday party day. The Peanut and I had planned to hit the morning party by bus, making it home in time to rendezvous with Daddy who would have picked up our Co-op car and installed the car seat, ready to head out to the afternoon party which was held in the opposite direction and requires a two hour bus ride and a five block up the side of a mountain hike to get to. We would have been home a little after bath time and the rest of the evening would have been spent eating left over BBQ and cake.

What really happened was this:

Thursday night, while sitting up and working on some handmade holiday cards for PeanutButterPie, I noticed that things in my head were a little bit like I'd had too much to drink. It was kind of like when you're at that giddy stage of drinking and the room stands still a little bit when you turn your head and then catches up with you a little too quickly. Worried but not thinking too much about it, I decided to go to bed, hoping that a good night's sleep would nip any problems in the bud.

Friday I woke up with a mild case of vertigo. When I say mild I mean that the room was spinning while I was laying still; but I was able to get up, cook a grilled cheese sandwich for the Peanut. Get us dressed and out the door to the medical clinic, after popping a few children's' Gravol. Bed time for me was the same as the Peanut's, again with the hopes that the vertigo would clear out, or at least be as easy to deal with as Friday had been.

Saturday brought Friday morning like symptoms x 500. Nausea in a dump truck and the inability for me to even hold my head up without taking a virtual roller coaster ride. The husband went out to fill my prescription and I stayed in bed, getting up only to use the bathroom and cursing my bladder and inner ear each time I lurched the few feet from bed to bathroom, clutching the furniture and walls frantically with each step.

Fortunately my popularity was highly over estimated and the guest list for the BBQ party was considerably shorter than the 20 plus (with kids and significant others) who RSVP'd their regrets. Instead of a bursting backyard and not enough food, we had the members from Husband's other band playing an acoustic set with guitar hand drum and shakers featuring Psycho Killer in the backyard to me and the Peanut. About dinner time the meds kicked in enough for me to be able to get out of bed and enjoy a light meal and the music.

So why did we go ahead with the shindig? I'm obstinate? That, and husband was having conniptions over cancelling. Trying to keep a cool head when opening your eyes to blender vision is exhausting. I just told him to suck it up and go ahead with it. I'd get up if I could and if not, no one who was coming would really be bothered, they'd play music, eat food and enjoy themselves, what I would have wanted any way.

Sunday saw me waking up with minimal spins. Husband presented me with my birthday gift at breakfast.

Initially the plan was for husband, my Mom, Mom-in-law and Grandma to send me to Seattle last week to see the Sounds Of The Universe Tour. With car problems (read: we don't own one anymore and I'm not legally part of the car Co-op yet) and family health problems and other emergencies that plan went out the window about a month ago. Instead I was presented with the SOTU deluxe box set. Something I've lusted after but wouldn't have gone out to get myself.

We skipped the morning party, a bus ride at 8:30 AM was out of the question even with a somewhat steady head. I sent husband and Peanut out by themselves the the afternoon party. They returned for dinner with the Peanut painted like a ladybug and sang me Happy Birthday at bedtime.

Not the weekend I had planned. Not a weekend I'd do over again up to the second. Not too shabby all things considered. Here's to next year, no more vertigo and a great year ahead.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

on pop culture, music and TV

I have a few friends who turn up their noses at TV.

One of them didn't watch any TV for a whole ear and found upon re-entering the TV viewing populace that there was nothing worth watching. All of it garbage, all of it trash.

While I love love love this friend I can't love her opinion ( kind of feel a little embarrassed around her because of my TV viewing). I am as previously stated in earlier posts a TV junkie. I love a good story. Her opinions are a bit of a slap, and while I know it's nothing personal; a part of me questions my tastes and my intelligence for willingly sitting in front of a box and staring at all the pretty lights...

On the other hand a part of me knows that I'm not just a big boob sitting in front an idiot box with my brain leaking out of my ears. I question what I'm watching, I critique and I get drawn in; if the story is written well enough.

Of course I also have moments when I'm exasperated by what passes for entertainment on the television. There are only so many dating shows, talent/ model contests and lowest common denominator situation comedies that I can stomach. Over the last few years I've paired down what I watch, picking and choosing what I'll sit in front of but I can't bring myself to turn my nose up at those who happen to like those other shows. Who am I to judge anyway?

As an artist I think it's important to be aware of popular culture and what's being consumed by the masses. Being in the know about new shows, bands and other media is also kind of cool too. Who doesn't want to be one of the cool kids?

I recently joined, a website/ social media platform that uses music sharing as it's method of communication. I'm hooked. Mainly because I've been re-introduced to bands I've almost forgotten about over the years and introduced to bands and performers I might not have come across otherwise, but also because the site allows for other users to show their appreciation of your musical choices. Of course this leads to a little performance anxiety.

What if one day you decide you just have to have to have to listen to some mass produced empty calorie pop music, something with minimal musical meat to it but a catchy hook that is slickly produced?

The other day one of the people I follow on twitter complimented my taste in music. The responsibility that went with that tweet was tremendous. With that tweet, (and the 40 odd props on my page that have gone with it) I all of a sudden felt the need to live up to that comment. Now I have to check myself if I all of a sudden have a yen to listen to some retro Back Street Boys. Talk about pressure.

Thankfully, that hasn't stopped me from blipping whatever comes to my fancy, like the sweater song with the kooky 50's/60's vibe, or a random They Might Be Giants tune. I like a well rounded play list.

Any one else feel the same things about your entertainment choices? The pressure to be super cool with your musical and other pop culture tastes?

Share a little, it can't be any worse than my adoration for John Cleese of Monty Python fame; he's on my free list of celebrities... him and a certain member of Depeche Mode......

Monday, August 10, 2009

I've been lax

I keep telling myself and posting about how I'm gong to keep on schedule, keep up with weekly feature posts, keep up with regular posts, keep up with posting at least three times a week to at least post.... see a pattern here?

Summer is catching up with us we're out more often, for play dates, birthday parties (because it's birthday party season) weddings and berry picking. Blogging time just kind of melts away and will be slowly returning as summer turns into autumn.

In addition to all these real world happenings I have plans to add to, tweak and organize TMCPhoto and my business plan for TMCPhoto and for PeanutButterPie. I have plans and I also have no idea where to start or how. Of course we'll figure it out and by we, I mean me. I started out on Etsy by just diving in. I've had a year to see how things work and now It's time to set things up to work better. I have goals; I want more views, I want more sales, I want to feel like I'm moving forward each week instead of treading water or coasting.

5 questions will be back in September; The last feature I did on TubbyTabby resulted in a direct sale as a result of the feature and I couldn't be more excited and pleased and happy for Jodi of TubbyTabby. I couldn't have been more pleased if the sales were mine. I'm a firm believer in the rule of three, what you put out comes back to you threefold, if I can help out a fellow Etsian I'm also helping myself. I'd love to have more sales for my feature artists result from my features. And this is where the title of this post comes in. I'm giving myself permission to slack off for the rest of summer.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I made a salad the other night

one of my favourites too. I'm sure there's an official name for it but I'm not aware of it or can't think of it in my first thing in the morning haven't quite gotten through my first and only cup of coffee fog.

I first had it at one of my good friend's home when we visited for dinner one night. It's so simple and fresh, all you need are tomatoes, basil, fresh garlic, bocconcini cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I fell in love with the texture and tastes and started making it for myself on a weekly basis the summer before I got pregnant with the Peanut. With one thing and another there's been little time to make it that often over the last three years (who knew that taking care of an infant/baby/toddler/preschooler would be so time consuming?) so now it's a special treat.

I've added my own twist to it over time sliced fresh strawberries; I have a secret love affair with adding dried and fresh fruit to my veg salads. This time around I also used something that I'm sure is well known in culinary circles but was new and exciting for me: White Balsamic. I found it to have a mellower bouquet (look at me getting all connoisseury up in here) than the caramelized darker version but still with the same distinct flavour.

Aren't you going to tell us how to make the salad? you ask. Sure! I say. As I said it's simple to make:
wash and slice tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes cutting them into quarters, strawberry and grape tomatoes are also excellent here for full tomatoes I like to use Roma) and strawberries.

Drain the bocconcini and slice as well

Layer tomatoes the fruit and basil leaves with the cheese.

For the dressing mix olive oil, balsamic and diced garlic clove together until they are emulsified (that's fancy cooking talk for mixed up really good) and pour on top of the salad.

Let it sit for an hour or so, allowing all the flavours to co mingle and absorb. season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and enjoy.

In other news Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom had another awesome giveaway on her blog. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've been following her and I am so glad that I did. Go now and see what's she's giving away now!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

a little something visual

I've noticed lately that the bulk of my posts have been all words and no pretty pictures. I'm sure it was all that heat addling my little brain. to counteract the verbal explosion here are some random shots from my travels over the last few weeks. Comments as always are welcome and appreciated

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Enter the Sucky Fairy

After a month of talking about it, explaining and answering questions, on Saturday night we invited the elusive Sucky Fairy to come to our home to help the Peanut transition out of Baby/Toddlerhood into childhood. Here's what happened:

Mommy and Miranda composed a special letter inviting the fairy to come to our house with a special request

Taking out the sucky

In the envelope with our special message

In the mailbox

Snuggling down to go to sleep

Did she come?

Mommy The Sucky Fairy Really did come

The Sucky Fairy changed my orange sucky into sea creature magnets and rainbow stones

Miranda's reply from the Sucky Fairy came complete with fairy dust and glitttery fairy finger prints where she carried it from her home

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Creative Challenge Group on MixxMade

I've been feeling a little stuck lately in the creativity department. It's a combination of things most of which are beyond my control or in some cases beyond my want to control.

Part of it is that it's summer and we want to be out and about as much as possible. Part of it is that it's been so hot here that the only thing I want to do is sit on the couch in front of the fan in a soaked down shirt and melt. Part of it is that over the three weeks my husband has been MIA at home due to band practices, lessons, birthday parties, weekend long stag parties and surprise visits from old school friends. Part of it is that I've been suffering from flash migraines; split second migraine headaches that make me shudder to consider how I'd be feeling if they lasted more than a second or two. Part of it is that I'm considering focusing only on my photography shop on Etsy and letting my other shop alone for awhile. I'd like to take some time and overhaul my shops; tweak shop announcements and add some alternate sizes of the same images and maybe a few new items featuring my photography but aren't photographs. Overall, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed .

I've needed a little fire under my butt to get me going in the creative department, just to get me thinking and moving. So I started a group on Mixxmade that would add some deadline pressure. The Creative Challenge group takes a word, phrase or idea and runs with it in any medium and then shares the outcome with the group via links to blog posts, online shops or personal websites. This months challenge was Fire and the two images at the top of the post are my entries. Photographs of the controlled fires being set in the Rocky Mountains to control the Pine Beetle epidemic. No flames are in the images just thick smoke trudging through the trees giving the forest an eerie and ominous feeling.

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