Tuesday, 31 March 2009

travel tuesdee - mysterious ways

Upon return from Taiwan, I had loosely decided that my next trip would be to a continent other than asia, given that I'd spent so much time there. Then when I filed my taxes for the first time in three years and was blessed with a sizable return, the opportunity arose for me to travel with a friend to Vietnam, a country whose borders I had glimpsed, but not yet crossed.
I knew that a change was needed in my life, and though I was uncertain of what form this change would take, I could feel the need for it growing in my bones. So I left for Vietnam completely and utterly open to the idea of never returning.
Just as I had imagined, I fell instantly in love - with the people, the food, the landscape, the history, all of it. A friend of mine was working as a teacher in saigon, and was certain he could find me work. Tentative arrangements were made for my apartment back home, and all that was left was the final leap. But something unknown and unspoken was holding me back.

Then one wet, shivery morning while visiting a mountain temple, we took shelter from the downpour under an ancient pagoda. Through the clear wall of water running over the rooftop, I could see a path leading to a bridge across the pond below us. There was a dark stone structure on the other side, crawling with vines and ravenous ferns. The guide explained to me that this was an old tomb, housing some sort of empress or princess (the details have become foggy). The structure was too dilapidated to allow visitors to enter and, rejected, it seemed to be retreating into the jungle. But there was something strangely compelling about the little red bridge that led to it.
I found myself inexplicably drawn to the congregation of water lilies in the pond, and the strange stillness of the water, even in the midst of such rain. My fanciful imagination had me wondering if I hadn't heard a faint sound from amongst the vines. Like the wailing of a distant siren.
Without a thought for the rain, I left shelter behind and moved toward it. The steps down were once sharp stone, but had been worn in the middle by thousands of years of worshipping feet. And as my flimsy summer sandal skated over the slippery stone and into the air, it would be these thousands of feet that came before me that would save my precious life.
In an instant I was floating in the air, and brought back down with the loudest and most terrifying sound I'd yet heard.


For a moment, everything was silent as I clasped my hands to the back of my head; felt the warmth flow through my fingers and down my wrists. Then all that would come from my mouth was a seemingly endless repetition of the words "oh f*ck. ohf*ck. oh f*ck." I was certain that this would be my final clumsy act; that if I were to release my hands, my mind would come tumbling out to mingle with the rain. oh f*ck. oh f*ck. oh f*ck.

The rest is kinda blurry. The guide helped me back to the shelter. Pressure was applied. The gash turned out to be managable, though far from pretty.

A week or so later I received a facebook message from a young man I had met only once, in a friend's back yard back in Toronto. He had heard rumour of my 'Nam wound and was inquiring after my noggin'. I was pleasantly surprised, as I'd found him very attractive and interesting, and hadn't thought he'd noticed me at all. Then the thoughts came:

hmmm. perhaps i'm not ready to sever all ties to my home just yet. perhaps i'll go home and spend the summer, and if i'm still dreaming of vietnam in the fall, i'll come back then. and who knows? maybe i'll see what this noggin fellow is all about...

...and I did.
Eight months later, that fellow became my husband.

The universe moves in mysterious ways, my friends.

Monday, 30 March 2009

feathered friends

Emily Valentine uses feathers and other mixed media to create strange and interesting demi-creatures, which repel and allure me all at once. above sit a "Pair of Pugcocks", and below lurks the "Foxy Budgie". :)

Friday, 27 March 2009

this one's for my baby

my husband is coming home from a week long business trip today (YAAAAAAAY!!!), and since he loooooves this song...

video vendredi in the realms of the unreal

not sure why it came back to me on this particular day, but i was reminded of an extremely fascinating and well-crafted 2004 documentary by Jessica Yu called In the Realms of the Unreal which explores the work and life of hermit-janitor and visionary artist Henry Darger.
i've posted the trailer below. if you haven't yet seen this, you really must.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

clark little

i found Clark Little's site via boingboing, and was sucked into his photographs as if by the undertow of the sea itself. his images of waves have such power and mystery. perhaps it's because i can't swim, but when i look at these images, my sense of awe is sprinkled with a touch of fear. i love it.

rudy wants spring to hurry up.

ph-ursday - walkin' to work

on my way to work yesterday i spotted some much loved signs of spring:
seeing the first wee sprouts poke their heads out from all the yellows and browns is one of my very favourite things.

it's not over yet though. a little further west, under the railroad bridge, winter still clings...

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

jennifer davis

i came across this uber-talented minneapolis artist on etsy today. i adore her use of colour and the scope of her imagination. jennifer has a website, blog and etsy shop, all teaming with extraordinary paintings and collages.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

moosefest 2010

first of all, Northern Exposure was one of the greatest television drama series ever written. if you have seen the show from the beginning, it is more than likely that you will agree with me. if you've not seen it at all, go and get it. as soon as you can. if you've seen one or two sporadic episodes and you just don't get what's so great about it, it's because you need to watch the series in it's entirety. go and get it. as soon as you can. and even if you're not entirely floored by season one, keep watching. trust me. it will enrich your life.

and since it has enriched our own, my husband and i are excitedly toying with the idea of attending moosefest 2010, the annual Northern Exposure fan festival held in Rosalyn, Washington (where the series was shot). it may seem a wee bit nutty, but the town looks just like the fictional Cicely, Alaska and many of the exterior sets are still there. special guests from the cast are in attendance, and they even kick off the festival with a 'running of the bulls' ceremony (no bulls involved, just nudity).

here's a goony little travel video about it, hosted by a Brady:

i don't expect you all to join us, but seriously, go rent the series. as soon as you can.

travel tuesdee - teaching in taiwan

if you've been following the travel tuesday posts at all, you've seen that i've a bit of a penchant for asia. i've explored many of it's countries over the years and on more than one ocassion, i very nearly didn't return. but i always do. i love my family and my ontario lakes n loons far too much to stay away forever.

we're up to 2005 now in my travel chronology and another asian adventure. this was the year i lived in do liu, taiwan as an english teacher. in many ways, it was the most integrated i have ever become into another culture. there is much about this trip that i'd like to forget -namely, one of those hind-sight-is-20-20 personal relationships that will forever be entangled with my own experiences- but there are many visions of taiwan that i will cherish as my own, just as i will always cherish the time i spent with my beautiful students.
here are some of the visions i keep:

thank you, little ones.

Monday, 23 March 2009

up, up and away

one of the first things i stumbled upon during this morning's internet peruse was the story of four teenagers who sent up a helium balloon with a regular camera and sensor attached to it, that wound up taking pictures of the earth from space. pretty awesome science fair project. you can read more about the story here, here and all sorts of other places, and the photos that said balloon brought back to earth can be seen on flickr here.

this is an interesting story regardless, but it was of particular interest to me on this particular morning, as i dreamt of a helium balloon just before i awoke. the balloon in my dream was a large canadian flag balloon and for some reason or other i new that it was of vital importance to me that i not let it fly away. but the wind was blowing strong, and the balloon wanted desperately to escape my hands. i removed the strange white gloves i was suddenly wearing, but the string kept on slipping from my panicked fingers. what the hell does that mean? am i having some sort of identity crisis?

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Friday, 20 March 2009

video vendredi - spring tunes

here are some tunes that remind me of last spring:

(couldn't find embeddable version. click on here to see video.)

video vendredi - first day of spring!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

tilt shift ph-ursday

you've probably seen some 'tilt shift' photography recently, where the focus has been manipulated to make objects in the image appear miniature, like a wee train set. you can browse through examples at tiltshiftphotography.net, and there are tonnes of flickr groups, like this one, or you can go to tiltshiftmaker, a site that allows you to upload and manipulate your own photos. it helps if you have the right kind of photo, as it doesn't work equally well with all. still, it's a fun site to play around with. i used this photo i took in Vietnam, which kinda sucks, but i have seen some pretty amazing examples.
i also found this tilt shift music video via drawn.ca

Bathtub IV from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

ana serrano

Ana Serrano's Cartonlandia encompasses three of my very favourite things: cut n' paste, bright sunny colours and miniature models. this piece is GORGEOUS, as is the rest of her work. and you really must go to her website to see more detailed photos. she also has a fabulous blog called ok, bye which i highly recommend you pay a visit to.

jansson stegner

i absolutely love Jansson Stegner's portaits.

raquel aparicio

pretty. see more of Raquel Aparicio's work here.

hump day sans doodles

it's hump day today (y'know: middle of the week. i've explained this before.) and though i normally post hump-day-doodles on hump day, i'm afraid i haven't anything worth posting at the moment. i most definitely feel a whole mess o' doodles churning around in my guts though. and since my partner in crime is off on a business trip next week, i've decided to spend as much time as possible spring cleaning and creating! (which will also help me to keep my mind off of how much i'll be missing said partner)

talita hoffmann

Brazilian artist Talita Hoffmann's paintings make me feel neat. See more of her stuff here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

beautiful, like jewelry

I've not taken the best care of my body and brain these 33 years. Generally, i've cared less for my physical safety and well being than for my mental state. This disregard for the physical is likely responsible for an often somewhat muddled mind that doesn't always have the tighest grasp on chronology. That being said, i'm pretty sure that my next destination after Mexico and Belize was a return to Thailand and a brief dip into Laos; this time as a traveler and not as a teacher.
Funny story for ya:
I have a tattoo on the back of my neck that I picked up on this particular trip. Years earlier, when i was teaching English in Lamphun, Thailand on a co-op program, my host family had given me a Thai name: Po-ra-dee. loosely translated as 'beautiful, like jewelry'. Since tattoos are also 'beautiful, like jewelry' i thought this to be the perfect addition to my body doodles. When i spoke this name to my friendly tattoo artist in Ko Phangan, he wrote it down in Thai letters for me to see. Though my spoken Thai is fairly decent, my reading skills are virtually null, but i recognized the first character as 'po', and so we proceeded with the tattoo. Let me just say that this is one of my favourite tattoos. I love this tattoo.
Kay, so, leap forward a whole bunch o' years and i'm back in Toronto, working on a film set for a TV movie. I'm all excited 'cause our lunch is being served at a nearby Thai restaurant and I haven't practiced my Thai in ages. Sure enough, the owner is there, he's a very nice man, and we strike up a conversation in Thai. He wants to know more about my experience there and then asks me if I have a Thai name. 'Pora-dee', I tell him. 'Ah', he says. Perhaps my accent is bad, because he doesn't seem to recognize the name. 'Actually, I have it tattooed on the back of my neck', says I. I show him. 'Aaah, Pawn-dee', he says.
- Pawn-dee?
- Ya ya
- Seriously, it says Pawn-dee, not Pora-dee?
- No no. Pawn-dee
- Wow.
- No no. It's very good. Very lucky.
- What does it mean?
- It's like...good witch. Very lucky witch.
- Huh.
Who knew? I'd been walking around for eight or nine years at this point, thinkin' I was 'beautiful like jewelry'. Funny thing is, it really didn't bother me that I'd essentially been rendered an idiot like so many other idiots with Asian tattoos they can't read themselves. In the end it isn't what the tattoo says to others that's important, but what it says to me. And besides, who needs beautiful jewelry when you got a lucky witch?

Friday, 13 March 2009

tell em that it's human nature

let me just say that i have never considered myself a michael jackson fan, though i certainly appreciate the man's talent and body of work. that being said, there is one MJ song that gets me every time: Human Nature. oddly enough, i'd say it's one of my all time favourite songs :)
here's a wicked live version. i love that he's breakin' out the crazy moves even though it's a slow song.

'course, if you're not familiar with the studio version, look that sh*t up, cuz it's way better (there's just no video for it).
and here's a cheezy video for a gorgeous acoustic guitar version of the song:

i know. i'm a cheeseball. what of it?

never cry chuck u farley

so the other day, we rented a movie i haven't seen in donkey's years that has ruminated in my memory since i was a child: Never Cry Wolf (1983). based on the book by Canadian legend Farley Mowat, this film changed the world's general perception of wolves as viscous ne'er-do-wells, and brought us a striking view of the far north in all its glory. still holds up. watch it. here's 8 minutes of it:

and here's a neat little interview with the mowat himself:

33 things i love about Toronto

i live in a big city. a crowded city. a concrete city.
i enjoy all of the comforts and outlets that my big concrete city provides. but sometimes -and it's usually about this time of year, when the winter has lost what little charm it came in with - my city begins to feel cold and mean and dreary. this is usually the time of year that i begin to dream of nature and green stuff and wide open spaces; of clean air, starlit skies and animals other than squirrels and pigeons. and it is during this period, when winter seems interminable, that i've a tendency to be a bit grumbly n negative, which can't be much fun for those i share my life with. SO... in the interest of positivity, and to remind myself that the proverbial grass on my own side of the fence may also be green, even when it's brown and frozen, here is a list of 33 things i love about Toronto:

1) wanna here some live tunes? rock, bluegrass, punk, gregorian chants, whatever turns your crank, it’s here. any day of the bloomin’ week.
2) Gandhi Roti at Queen n Bathurst. saag paneer roti? good gawd! just thinkin about that sh*t makes me drool.
3) Queen Video. wanna watch an obscure experimental film, or a 1980 Kristie McNichol flick? it’s here. and they’re so nice about late charges too.
4) china town, greek town, korea town, little india, little italy, little portugal etc. etc. etc.
5) anyone can get married here. any bloomin’ day of the week.
6) world class festivals and parades (toronto international film festival, pride, caribana, tastes of the danforth etc. etc.)
7) have you ever been to the Toronto Reference Library? it’s awesome.
8) watchin’ the kids do tricks at the skatepark at dundas n bathurst with my husband, who explains what they're doing for me :)
9) as soon as the temperature gets up around 7 degrees, people start sportin silly shorts and silly grins
10) sometimes we see hawks from our balcony
11) we can also hear the soccer fans cheering from BMO field when there's a TFC game on. when we watch the games on tv we leave the balcony door open and it sounds like we're all watching together :)
12) the green houses at Toronto Botanical Gardens where you can sit on a bench and sweat with the butterflies in the middle of winter
13) the Toronto Zoo has world renowned habitat and conservation programs and you can learn what it feels like to be a turtle :)

14) Ontario Place. concerts, the lantern festival, the cinesphere. still fun.
15) pushin buttons n touchin’ stuff at the Ontario Science Centre.
16) smellin' all those yummy rustic smells and pettin' hairy Scottish cows at Black Creek Pioneer Village.
17) the air show shakes my condo once a year, and turns my husband into an excited little boy.
18) the basement treasures at Honest Ed's.
19) watchin the fit people play volleyball at Cherry Beach (while i watch people put their kids in the water and think ‘ i wouldn't do that if i were you’)
20) they got restaurants on boats here. i’ve never eaten on one, but i could if i wanted too.
21) Nuit Blanche. i’ve only been to one of these, cuz last time i was in Vietnam instead, but I’ll never forget seeing my city’s streets all full of wonder and dripping with inspiration.
22) biking around Toronto Island and wishing i lived there.
23) seeing the skyline as you drive home after a long absence.
24) the secret swing hidden in an alleyway near queen n spadina
25) eating the best ice cream in the city while soaking up the wacky d├ęcor at Dutch Dreams
26) the smell of cinabon at Eglinton subway station
27) the obscenely fallic CN Tower light show
28) gallery hopping on Queen street
29) the spicy food festival and free concerts at harbourfront
30) vintage clothing and the cheeses of the world at Kensington Market
31) eating sh*t i could never otherwise afford at Winter/Summerlicious
32) watchin skid couples put there hands in the back pockets of each others’ acid-wash jeans at the CNE
33) try and pry this city's residents off the patios come first sign of spring

oops, i forgot

i said i was gonna post three Hilldebrande pages last night and then i did not. heh heh. tomorrow. for sure.
(this photo by Stefano Unterthiner can be found at the British Natural History Museum's wildlife photographer of the year awards. Stefano's website houses many more of his incredible photos)

Thursday, 12 March 2009

L Filipe dos Santos (Corcoise)

j'adore the drawings/paintings of L Filipe dos Santos. above sits my favourite: 'dance me until the year is over'. so much expression. i also love his See Saw illustrations created from rorschach blobs in his moleskine.

you can see these and many more beautiful works at dos Santos' website. do go n see.

just when i thought my recent weight gain was somehow disadvantageous...

is it easter yet? i need a four day weekend.

winter and work are wearin me down man. i'm feeling so groggy and unmotivated. i even missed yesterdays hump-day-doodles :(
no worries. i promise to post three full pages of Hilldebrande's Land when i get home tonight (should be up by 6:30pm). i know it aint easter yet, but these next three pages are all to do with bunny rabbits. and this time, which is only the case about 15% of the time, the stories are absolutely autobiographical.
in the meantime, since it's ph-ursday, here are some bunny rabbit photos i took in Taiwan. the little girl was one of my students. (the bunny, not so much.)

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

emotional space

i would like to draw your attention to the work of a friend of mine with whom i went to film school. Eric Cator is an artist and blogger based here in Toronto whose exquisite work explores our physical and emotional relationships with the spaces in which we move about. here is a portion of Eric's artist's statement, taken from his website:
"In my paintings I explore how space affects us physically and emotionally, and how we mark and alter space with our presence. This exploration has led to several series of paintings, and while these works are diverse in style and content, the ideas they explore are all firmly rooted in the collision between the physical world around us and the internal world of the self."

Eric also has a marvelous daily painting blog, showcasing the work of other brilliant artists as well as some of his own. check it out here

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

the woods are lovely, dark and deep...

[Road to Killarney by David J Veres of "the New 7"]

my mind turns and returns to damp, quiet forests and smooth rocks. it seems eons since the earth of anything but dog parks and backyards has cushioned my concrete feet.
my husband and i have been watching Northern Exposure. i've seen every episode more than once, but i can always revisit. and everytime i do, i am prone to daydream of moving shop to the north.
this morning's northern daydreams have been coloured and scented by my recent reservation of a campsite in Killarney Provincial Park in late june. you really have to grab the early worm to get a site these days, and now i'm doomed to fantasize for 3 and a half months.
Killarney is a magical place. the jewel in the Ontario Parks' crown. trails crawling with wildlife stretch through the park like vines, carrying you to saphire lakes and ancient stone hills, and views that have inspired for thousands of years.
Killarney's landscapes have been an ispiration to countless artists, including members of the Group of Seven, some of whom were instrumental in persuading the Ontario government to declare the area a protected park.

i could wax on about Killarney for hours, but i've work to do (...and miles to go before i sleep :)

Friday, 6 March 2009

loose leaf 60s

video vendredi time warp

pssst! hey you! come on back to the 1950s with me for a moment...
here are two of my many many many favourite songs from that decade:

auntie got er hair did

apart from my self styled baby-bangs, i have not cut my hair in almost a year. i thought i'd grow it long 'cause that's what yer s'posed to do, right? anyway, it was getting long, but all i ever did with it was wear it in a pony tail. every day. bah. so yesterday i went and had it all cut off! i'm sportin' a modern take on a 1920s bob, and i'm diggin' it.


just hours after the sheers had left my head, my husband and i received word that his sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy! i'm an aunt! for cryin' out loud, babies are poppin' out all over the dang place. as my sister-in-law said, march is rush hour on the birthing tables!

very excited to be an aunt :)

Thursday, 5 March 2009

square america - my favourite photo archive

if you're at all interested in vintage photography, particularly the sort that heirs on the odd and imperfect side, your treasure hunt should end at Square America. this site is full of wonderously quirky photos from the 1890s to the 1970s, all taken by amateur photographers, and arranged in fascinating groupings for your perusal. i could spend hours on this site just staring into all those faces from the ether. here are some of my favourites:

these folks have also published a book of 350 photos from their collection called Who We Were. looks good, people.