Monday, December 21, 2009

Memories I dont want to miss out on

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Paris and Stockholm
Current mood: contemplative
Category: Travel and Places

Rare is it that i believe that what i believe is important enough to bother saying aloud without the knowledge that others are listening. Today is a rare day. I speak. Not necessarily to say what i mean but to question what i believe and what others believe, to ask if anyone can contradict my query and reassure me as to the truth of such statements as "Paris is beautiful" so I am not left to wonder how or why.

Awakened in Stockholm, I attempt to surf the internet while i decipher which path my day will take. It is always a bit odd and unusual waking somewhere you hadn't planned to be less than a week before. So long as the curtains remain pulled closed it makes no difference - but once they are open and i look about outside everything becomes a bit stranger. Today I see snow. A narrow rushing road piled with snowdrifts, the quintessential winter wonderland in theory. I find it difficult to come up with spontaneous hopes and aspirations without them seeming a bit rushed in their creation. When it comes to Stockholm all I have in my head are vague notions of milkmaids named Helga, thanks to Improv and acting classes with Kathleen over the years. I keep trying to verify where I am, Sweden and Switzerland mixed up in my mind too often (now at one, a few summers ago it was the other.) I loved Geneva, now i need to find something that I love here.

Paris was dirty. When searching for a descriptive word, there is no need to search. Paris looked like the grey and depressing concrete slab of Simon Fraser University after ten thousand free cans of spray paint were given out to anyone who cared to mark their territory, throw a party and leave their waste scattered about to prove that they existed, that they were a someone, that they had been there.

I can now imagine what the moon would look like if space travel were accessible and everyone was able to have their way and visit it. The moons surface would become a messed up monument to the existence of millions of individuals as they scrawled their names in the sand, tagging moon rocks and plastering parts of themselves across its dusty surface in a desperate cry to be seen as something greater than themselves.

I am certain I have heard the claim that Paris is beautiful. I am now caused to question who it was that spoke, to wonder where i heard or saw that statement of belief. I cannot seem to back it up with facts or quote an instance of its being stated as fact. That Paris is beautiful is undocumented. Merely the concept of Paris and beauty in the same sentence is perplexing to me now.

Interesting, yes - Creative, most definitely - Unusual and eye catching? Facts. But beautiful? This idea confuses me. It causes me to search in vain, wondering if something was lost in translation perhaps. Maybe they meant "Paris is beautiful in June when the sun is out and Parisians have spent three months cleaning the streets and whitewashing the 300 miles of graffiti away for a few days before it returns with a vengeance." For those who might say Paris is Beautiful, I am left wondering how they got there and where they purchased their rose coloured glasses as I would have loved to fly in on that Griffen and miss the dirt and grime and graffiti that plastered itself upon everything like a second skin.

When we visited Paris yesterday and the day before - everywhere we looked there were gaping holes in the ground as earth movers shoved the cities' dirt from one plot of land to the next. Giant holes were cut into the ground alongside seemingly new apartments and condo homes. The construction was so haphazard and complex that I was quickly questioning whether these constructions were the remains of near finished buildings - or if in fact their intent was in tearing them down.

Trash piles burnt next to abandoned caravans, old women and young children stumbled into the questionable warmth of derelict truck bed covers scattered throughout these degradingly simple compounds. Wall after wall after wall after wall blemished by (gang) tags, entire city streets marred by names and acronyms vibrantly adorned every textured surface that we passed. The air stank and altered gravity, the chemicals within its makeup pressing heavily against hair and skin, each breath taken less fresh than the last.

I liked Paris, I thought the Louvre was beautiful, as were the courtyards adjoining it and so much of the artwork it contained within. The Eiffel tower was interesting (but still so impractical an object that it doesn't inspire me to great heights, even the notion of climbing it to say i had was beyond my needs. ) I saw the eiffel tower, I enjoyed the train rides and our walk in the brisk winter wind - and the architecture of the historical old buildings near by, but i remain uninspired. The miles of land around it were lacking in care, the efforts and imaginations of Paris wrapped up so tightly in the awe and wonder of this one object that they neglected hundreds more. Ambient noise was unremarkable, music played as trains readied to depart and otherwise there was no distinctive sound earning its memory.

As my photograph was taken while I stood before the Eiffel Tower, several men peed on the surrounding bushes, mere feet away.

I kept listening for the subliminally echoed whisper of "Paris is beautiful" but found it too easily drowned out by the deafening roar of neglect.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Goals and rewards...

Mini vent fest about to take place... I need to hide from contact with the outside world and explaining once is easier than taking time to chat on the phone or IM with individuals... for the next 7 days.. I do not exist..... SHHHHH

This is the last week of classes - dead week. Next week is exams, though for me - it feels like its this week and its just a really long week. Instead of giving work throughout the semester, my Survey of English Literature class has 2 essays due on exam day as well as numerous paragraph response essay questions and simple response queries. All in all a fun way to end the semester, I would prefer to do the work over the four month time period of courses but the professor is nice and did not wish to overwork us. Semi illogical given my current situation, but hey - its college, life is meant to be a challenge of late nights and intense work periods right?

In addition to English Lit., my Womens Psychology class requires three weeks of work to be turned in by next Sunday.. maybe sooner really - i didn't look at the final due dates and i think it was a Wednesday requirement also... I may just do the two new weeks of work and let the one "magic week" assignment I never finished go. Trying to set priorities here. Ive made a schedule and I intend to beat it. Ideally - I will finish every essay - every project, all of it - by tomorrow night. I am not expecting perfection, just doable versions of all that I need with the acceptance that I may edit them Wednesday or Thursday for completeness (along with my prior essay i need to revise and all my online work that is still required!) I will do all of this - Now! Immediately! Without deviating from my intentions to play in photo shop and create lovely images of where I aim to be instead of being where I am meant to be.... Though I do have to say the above creation of mine is rather motivating ....

It is our Six year anniversary and I want to spend it relaxed... having fun. Ideally, on Saturday we will go off on a long drive to Monteray beach through the redwood forests everyone in California loves so much. We will follow this with a relaxed day at the aquarium reenacting where we shared our first kiss. A walk on the beach, sunset in the sand.. Ghiradelli Hot fudge Sundaes, perhaps fly our kite... simple pleasures.. so simple and achievable if I can just shut up, sit down and finish this ride...

Then, after the weekend is over i will touch down in reality again and resume studying for my algebra final for 72 hours straight and achieve a delightfully successful semester end and the beginning of a long hot, slow summer.

Moral of the story is - I am afk until thursday/friday of next week - taking care of me.

The Celebration after that will be Maker Fairre where I am going to act as a volunteer this year! Geektastic fun - leading up to my aim to attend the actual event on Saturday....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tomatoe Sauce - hold the tomatoe!


As a child I suffered from a variety of ailments - most of which memory and time have erased, while a few reinvent themselves again from time to time. The main example of this presented itself as skin irritations which have randomly reoccurred during the past six years in which I have traveled the US and abroad.

Having left the clean and moisture rich air of the Vancouver rain forest behind for the dry heat and sunshine of California was bound to have an effect. I accepted this. Trading tank tops and shorts for the many layers I was accustomed to would obviously expose my skin to more contaminants than it would have been subjected to in my prior life. I took it in stride, accepted the many prescriptions and ointments prescribed and went about my life. In theory. What I actually did was bitch and moan a rather lot, so that even I got sick of complaints regarding "my body" (but that is besides the point!)

Initially, the issues would flare up following dinner out. Usually a lovely Indian Curry would precede it by a few days - then the urge to scratch my arm would consume me. I banned spicy food from my diet for a few weeks to test the theory that the curry caused my discomfort - and it nearly explained it. Except, once in a while I would give in to the desire for a wonderful korma or Butter Chicken - and no reaction would follow the meal. Odder still - I could cook at home and nothing would happen at all no matter what spice combination I would throw together in the meal. For months there appeared to be no pattern.

Then I began to experiment with removing selected foods from my diet which I recollected being banned from as a child for health reasons. Finally I stumbled upon my Eureka moment. While it is satisfying to know that I can still enjoy my spicy Thai and Indian curries, it is difficult to navigate around the actual cause of my reactions.

Tomatoes loath me, even while I adore them.

During the greatest flare ups I had often been eating fresh tomatoes from the farmers market daily, I would eat curries and pasta and chili and rice every week. Honestly - more likely, in every meal. While I like to pretend that maybe it is the pesticides used on the tomatoes, or something in the soil or during transport that I am allergic to... my own testing cautiously disproves this. Within a week of having deleted ketchup tomatoes and eggplant (another nightshade linked to the causation of dry skin reactions) from my diet I reverted to healthy skin that gets compliments again.

The magic cure, the deletion of something I loved, simple - and yet so complex. One moment I traveled down the road towards psoriasis, eczema and repeated trips to the pharmacy - the next moment, seemingly cured!

With one Caveat. Tomatoes are such a mainstay in American life that it requires constant navigation to avoid them. Breakfast, lunch and dinner - in restaurants, delicious tomatoe based meals call out to me. I look away, walk away, stay away.

I am mildly troubled as I walk past the baskets full of Cherry tomatoes and the rainbow of Heirloom Tomatoes at the Farmers market each week; saddened by the difficulty of locating pasta sauces and pizzas without the banned food in the ingredients list; I am amused by the kindness of my friends as they separate Tomatoes and Eggplant from the other broiled vegetables when I Join them for Barbecues.

Most of all, I am thankful that my allergy is a mild one. If I eat a curry every few weeks - the itch factor remains in check for the most part. A pizza slice here or a few spoons of beans on toast there - these are mere blips on the scratchiness scale, easily lived with even if they are not to be desired.

The true difficulty in possessing a simple allergic reaction such as this one - is that it is so simple it becomes complex because of its simplicity.

Each time I interact with tomatoes I am aware of how recently I last ate them. Too often - too soon - too much and I am back to square one. Faced with total elimination from my diet for weeks until the toxins or acids or whatever it is that cause my misery have depleted themselves enough to be at a safe level for me to eat them again. I can honestly say - I doubt that I will eat a heaping plate of Spaghetti and marinara sauce ever again. This saddens me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

THINGS I want to do....

When I wander most successfully I find myself surrounded with great ideas for "not quite right now." The following are a small compilation of semi random things I am interested in... just not quite right now...

1. Collect Pine cones this year so I am ready for fall / winter crafts.
2. Find Pussy Willows.
3. Collect Maple Leaves and make these awesome maple leaf roses i saw ages ago and just bumped into tutorials for again while randomly avoiding the last third of my math exam that waits in front of me. (Ideally BEFORE July 1st, Canada Day arrives)
4. Drag someone to Maker Faire on May 30th. Geek out.
5. Actually plan an anniversary before it is a month past.
6. Do SOMETHING on my birthday that is actually FUN - on the actual day, not 3 before or two weeks after... but ON the ACTUAL day so I can get it out of my system and not be irritated by it for the remainder of my lifetime.
7. Polish off my degree (so close!)
8. Bake my own bread.
9. Tile my patio this summer vacation.
10 Demolish and tile part of my kitchen.
11. Paint a mural.
12 Set up the projector in the back yard and watch movies in our own drive-in theatre, minus the cars.
13. Hike
14. Bike
15. Try out letterboxing and maybe Geo caching if i can fix my GPS.
16. Have my nephews and family visit for a few weeks so we can get some time together before they are all grown up.
17. finish this test....

The World's Largest DIY Festival Maker Faire coming to the Bay Area

300x250A two-day, family-friendly event to MAKE, create, learn, invent, CRAFT, recycle, think, play and be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology.

While for many, Spring break, Summer vacation, Christmas and Easter are the events to anticipate with eagerness - the Geek in me is ecstatically happy to see that Maker Faire is coming to a local venue next month.

Make is one of my top destinations each month, along with repeated visits to Craft and Geekdad. These Zines and Blogs are great brain food filled with creative geekified concepts that keep me entertained.
While Etsy is an amazing resource for artists /crafters /makers /hackers /creators to showcase and sell their creations, the previous sites assist you in the creation of the creations, how to's and procurement of needed supplies. My first issue of Craft purchased last year included a cardboard loom which introduced me to weaving. The forums and project sites have led me to felting (both wet felt and flat felt) as well as to many other projects and brainstormed ideas.
Current projects I am fiddling with include felted balls, adventures with LED's, Hula Hoops, magnets and pink baseballs. This year I am going to make it to Maker Faire, equipped with at least a couple cool crafted wearables with the intention of standing out so that I blend right in!

A few weeks ago, a new friend took me for a day hike in the Almaden Hills. Incredibly well informed, she shared her knowledge of the plants and wildflowers and we chatted about future hikes. While I expressed my past interest in treasure hunts (Captain Vancouvers Great Treasure Hunt took up YEARS of mine and Beekers time way back in the 90's), she explained the idea of Letterboxing to me. Similar to Geocaching, except without the GPS - Letterboxers locate hidden caches and leave their mark by stamping a log book with their personal stamp. Clues to locate a local Letterbox can be found online at various sites such child friendly Atlasquest or Letterboxing North America which describes the activity as "an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a charming "treasure hunt" style outdoor quest. A wide variety of adventures can be found to suit all ages and experience levels."

This sounded great to me! Over the next few days I traversed the internet for knowledge and scavenged my bins of hobbies n' crafts bits-n-bots for the simple equipment deemed necessary to make our own permanent stamps. This was no time for potatoe stamps!

Though I located the equivalent of a GIANT sheet of white rubber eraser on sale at D&J Hobbies in Campbell - any clean eraser would have done just as well. Also -though they recommend carving tools - a charcoal pencil and exacto blades worked beautifically for the purpose. This past weekend we met up again and spent a more relaxed evening over a glass of wine and carved stamps for future letterbox adventures. I sketched out a young womans face (inspired by B's fascination with Manga and fairy illustrations) while my friend sketched out and then carved a wonderful rustic owl.

Downside - safe, carving tools would allow the kids to explore this a bit, but unless I stumble upon an inexpensive set to test out - the exacto blade will be kept off limits and stamp carving is a "second mom" only event.

Plus-side - watching me craft anything they are not involved with directly inspires the girls to venture off into their own collections of craftables and they always live up to the challenge of entertaining themselves.

While my bronze cast instructor is quick to dismiss anything useful as being far removed from "art" - I beg to differ. Each of the imaginative pieces that have been conceived by the little ones this week are definite masterpieces.The Girls are well on the way to becoming GeekGirls - this past weekend they each completed felted creations to be shown with pride. I will post pictures of A's Flower Bouquet and B's nifty felted handbag soon.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Hour and Family

Science World @ Earth Hour by kennymatic.

We celebrated Earth hour this weekend. While many parts of the world dimmed their lights for an hour, we removed ourselves from virtually all electricity for the better part of two hours. The prep was more exciting and well thought out than our last two new years eves combined.

I had determined a few days prior- that this moment, ( between eight thirty and nine thirty when the lights of the City would be dimmed ) would be the best chance to make use of our telescope and have a stargazing event of our own. So we dusted off the telescope, rounded up picnic blankets, lit candles and prepared an easy pizza dinner to snack on in the dark. In addition to the telescope and binoculars, I brought out my guitar and later we took turns strumming tunes for each other in the candlelight .

Well prepared - we were early to the party. While we waited for the clock to tick down to the official starting time, we tossed a giant beach ball my sister sent us back and forth in the dark, playing a kinder form of keep away as our eyes adjusted. Dad wandered the perimeter and turned off the motion sensitive lights that TheCat illuminated for us with his prowling of the yard. We played together in the stillness of the night and watched as the stars grew brighter and our eyes adjusted.

While initially tempted to enable internet access and access starcharts that way, instead I perused the bookshelves and located The Night Sky and located our very cool glow in the dark starfinder wheel. With one blast of the torch to power it up, we could hold it up to the sky and compare what we saw with the chart. Of course now I've located a more detailed version that can be made ourselves (not glow in the dark of course).

When my sweetheart was satisfied with how he had lined up Orions belt, he called each of us over and I stood there with his arms around me watching the stars come into focus before us. Absolutely fabulous! Like a dork, the dork that I am - standing there beneath the stars, surrounded by my favorite people - it was heavenly.

While monuments such as the eiffel tower (for 5 minutes??? - I show my disbelief by using no capitalization there) and the Egyptian Pyramids faded to dark and throughout the world, bridges and skyscrapers seized to pierce the sky with their light, we took turns dancing around the backyard with our lightsabers lighting our way. Sadly - the rest of the world embraced the moment with more precision. Images of San Francisco and San Jose are much less notable nd dramatic than London or Peru.

London_Tower_Bridge_After by Earth Hour Global.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I react strongly to stories of human tragedy - I tend to easily become emotionally involved. Alone tonight - I let myself watch the actual news footage about the crashed plane and it has been good and wonderful and inspiring to see happy endings do come true. A Jtragedy averted.. instinctive heroism on all accounts. just amazing to see the ferries all turn in unison to assist.. within 30 seconds rushing to the plane... that instinct and goodwill just seems lacking so often it was nice to see they didnt think about it - they just went to work to help.... makes me feel happier today even though it also makes tears stream down my face.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dyed in the wool... what does that mean anyways?

According to various internet references , the expression "dyed in the wool" refers to a state of steadfastness, especially with respect to one's political, religious or social beliefs. The expression comes from the fact that fabric can be dyed in a number of ways. The woven fabric may be dyed after it is complete, or the threads may be dyed before they are woven. When a color is "dyed in the wool," the wool itself is dyed before being spun into threads so the colour is least likely to fade or change.

The red and orange wools worked out great, as you can see below. I got carried away and proceeded to create my first wet felted purse, above.

Don't drink the Kool-Aid

A friend purchased several bags of wool roving from an online retailer a few months ago and passed on a pound of it to me. I have been looking towards getting the time to dig it out and "do something" with it ever since.

Alone for several days yet, tonight is that moment and I am presently in the midst of a craft night extravaganza. One of those rare nights when i can make a mess and noone can see it, when I can make mistakes, throw my hands in the air and say stuff it as i cram evidence of foiled artistic attempts into the garbage can then try again.

Tonight, I recreate the mess of childhood and the memory of my big sister beautifying our barbies. Tonight, I dye with Kool-Aid. I had intended to use more classic dye methods to alter the wool roving in preparation for felting projects. I had planned to follow proper traditional textile processes - right up until my research showed that many of those methods were likely hazardous in their applications, which to me seemed absurd. When the directions for natural plant based dyes direct you to use harmful chemical to set the dye, there is a logic flaw in there somewhere. Kool-Aid it is.

Funny enough, a search for Kool-Aid on Google brings up dozens of craft dye references but lacks info on potential Kool-Aid retailers. I had to follow a hunch and search several aisles of three grocery stores in order to gather the 7 packets I now possess. Kool-Aid is a dying breed it seems :)

I admit that I pondered for more than a moment whether or not I was REALLY going out at 9:30 pm, in hunt of powdered drink mix - but the fact is - yes I did. Unfortunately my color of choice eluded me. Regardless of how fervently i searched - there was no blue to be found except on the packages themselves.
Happily I made it through without having to explain to a store clerk that I was looking for a .33 cent package of kool-aid in a specific color. Unhappily though, thus far I am surrounded by several shades of red , a lovely orange and a sad purple with only the faintest hint of blue.

Using a turkey baster, I applied small amounts of several dye colors to a few test pieces of roving. The final effect provided fainter, diluted shades as the wool did not soak in a large amount of dye like the others.

I still processed the wool by placing it in the microwave for a series of two minutes on high, two minute pause, two minutes on high - then drain if water is clear, but i transferred the wool test strips to a glass bowl from the pan.

I was happily surprised to verify that the dye water really does turn clear once the dye has all been absorbed into the wool as its steamed and heated. You can see the dye water halfway up the baster, after the process has completed its session of ten minutes on high in microwave - pause for two minutes and then another two minutes on high til water is clear. I found many sites with koolaid dye directions, all similar in nature - the one i followed is linked below.

Although the process of dying wool has taken me several hours - one dye from start to finish could be completed in ten minutes then left to dry. If the wool is left to cool in the microwave, this process could be done with children safely and with less mess than some other rainy day activities. I am looking forward to testing that theory soon.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Leaf Motif Bronze Sculpture Series


Images of my most recent sculptures are now available to view.

This is currently a work in process as I continue to add comments, edit the layout and upload further images once I have succeeded in bringing the pieces closer to completion. I have organized the images in a tutorial style format with simple comments and explanations about the process for those whom have a curiosity about terms used.

Further explanations and definitions thanks to Wikipedia : Burnout, Gates, Cups, cast, lost wax, ceramic shell mold material, silica, Slurry, foundry, metal casting

I would like to thank everyone in advance for positive feedback.