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Favourite: on collecting art

I spent a lot of my time through the morning and afternoon thinking about what I could share for “favourite”.  After all, there are so many ways a person could go with such an open ended photography challenge.  I thought about it while brushing my teeth, while running errands, while watering the plants…  It wasn’t until it was almost time to pick up the girl from kindergarten that I settled on my subject matter.  I would share my favourite piece of art.

I’m an art collector.  I love original art.  Due to lack of funds I often have to be creative to feed this particular passion.  Trading and bartering are wonderful things – and something I encourage even in my own line of work.  As a photographer I’m happy to trade time and skill with other artists and craftspeople.

My collection includes work by local talent, and those across the globe from me.  It includes digital works as well as more traditional pieces.  I’ll admit to the inclusion of a print as well – it’s an Emily Carr, and as much as it would thrill my soul to have an original of hers, purchasing one would put us out on the street…  where it’s especially difficult a collection.

And through all this variance, and all this beauty?  My current favourite piece of art is hanging on my fridge:

my fridge

An untitled, four part piece, in ink, glitter, and stickers on construction paper by Lily-Ann Smith and her Uncle, Wilson Yandt:

princesses, puppies, fairies, and a look into the ocean depths.

One of my favourite memories from our first month in this house was watching the two of them sitting at her art station shortly after my brother had moved in.  I loved listening to the back and forth, the love and genuine sharing.  It filled my heart in a huge way.  And I think what they created together is beautiful.  It is bright, vibrant and full of goodness.  There is a real possibility it may end up in a frame before the Winter is out.  I think it would break my heart if anything were to happen to it, so while it’s on the fridge now, I think it will be much safer behind glass.

Tomorrows challenge will be much easier.  😉

photo a day challenge for january

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Looking Back

There are times when everything is so chaotic in our lives that it can be easy to idealize the way things used to be.  Of course, the truth is people’s lives were full back then too…  but it is nice to envision a fairy tale simplicity; the not-quite-accurate bygone days.  There are times though, when you stand still long enough to realize our lives really aren’t that much different.  Our values are the same, as are our priorities.  Okay, so that may not be true for all people, but it is for us.  Family comes first.  And we do everything we can to give Kid Kid as amazing and rich a childhood as we can.  The holidays just tend to put the focus there, even for those who normally are too busy living to really notice.

an aged black and white photograph, digitally enhanced to appear so, of the girl with Santa.

A quiet moment with Santa.

So You Want to Be a Wizard

The cover of my twenty year old copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard.So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane was one of my favourite books as a kid.  I think I was about seven when I read it.  The bookmobile had just gotten a copy of it and I remember my name was the first one on the book slip – I always loved it when that happened.  I absolutely devoured it, and then couldn’t wait for the end of the week when the bookmobile would again be parked next to Dr. Seager Wheeler Park so I could tell the librarian about it – to ensure she stocked the next book when it came out.

A few years ago now, I saw an old copy (though not so old as the one I would have first read) on the “for sale” rack at our little neighbourhood library.  It was old enough that it still had the kraft paper envelope glued onto the first page – where the book slip would have slid in so perfectly.  I grabbed it pretty darn quickly, and when the girl was done checking out her books I gratefully handed over the quarter (or two, I can’t recall exactly how much it was) that the paperbacks withdrawn from the library collection sell for.  When we got home, I stashed it away on a shelf, knowing some day my girl might just love it as much as I did… and excited that it would be here waiting for her.

Inside my copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard, the withdrawn stamp and the kraft paper envelope... memories.

Tonight we started reading the brittle, crinkly pages, each one crackling and popping as they were turned.  There is just something special about older books.  Something magical in the way they sound, feel, and smell.  Even leafing through them is a journey…  and I’ll admit to a palpable tingle in the air as I listened to the pages turn taking us to the prologue and our epic adventure.

As my husband read aloud, I was taken back to the very first time I read So You Want to Be a Wizard.  And I was quickly reminded why I loved it so much, even then.  I was never one for flaky books with characters as thin as the paper their lives were printed on.  Even as a kid, I liked my words meaty, purposeful, and true.  Listening to Nita’s experience going back into the children’s section of her little library, I relived those first moments of discovery, when I knew what it was to stumble – with her – onto the amazing book and looking forward to where it would take her.  …yep, I’m going to enjoy doing this again.  😉

Mrs. Morin – always a beacon of love and strength.

Life has a tendency to throw a curve ball every so often, just to keep you on your toes.  Some you catch, and return…  others knock you on your ass.  This one?  This one hit me harder than I’d have expected.

A friend just shared the news that a woman I loved and respected has passed from this life.  I knew she was sick, but I hadn’t seen her in years.  I only ever knew her as the bright, intelligent, caring Mom to the Morin clan.

I have so many wonderful memories of Maryjo.  She peppered my teen years with kindness and laughter, an ever present nurturing figure that I (and so many others) could count on.  Mom to four boys, I remember her rescuing me from her eldest who had stuffed me in his hockey bag one afternoon.  I remember the look she gave him as she made sure the others helped me out of that stink sack.

I would have been fifteen or sixteen at the time, and he was a few years older than me – and delighted in the fact that I was so pocket sized.  At the time there were no girls in the family other than Maryjo, so the boys tended to treat me more like a brother – which is something she always felt the need to apologize for (though it didn’t bother me).  I’d like to think those experiences helped prepare them for the sister who would come later, and whom they had learned to be much gentler to thanks to Maryjo’s no nonsense brand of loving discipline.

Maryjo always grinned and gave me a knowing look when the guys would call me idget (because I was “too small to be a midget”).  They always treated me like one of their own…  a middle sister.  And I always felt so at home with them all and Mrs. Morin was a big part of that.

As tears dry on my cheeks after the news of her passing, I take comfort in knowing she found her way home.  I’d like to think that she is again that woman – healthy, vibrant, full of spark – that I remember from all those years ago.  Pain free, and rejoicing in all the blessings she has known.

My heart goes out to the Morin family.  I can only imagine the feelings they must be coping with as they experience her loss.  Maryjo was the hub of their home.  You knew wherever she was you would find compassion, joy, laughter and tenderness.  I will always hold her in my heart – a heart full of gratitude for all she gave me.  She will be remembered with fondness, love, and appreciation.

Momma Morin and all her boyz

Momma Morin and her boyz (hope they don’t mind that I nabbed this off fb). The clan as I remember them from my early teen years – a little older, a little hairier, but the same old faces I loved so much.

 

Of meteors, ducks, and toots in the night.

We drove 1/2 hour outside of Saskatoon to lay in the prairie grasses beside a lake, cuddled up close to protect against the night chill as we listened to the ducks and other wild life calling to one another, watching the meteors streak across the sky.  The girl alternatively whispering in awe and shrieking in excitement while the cold slowly worked it’s way into her bones.

Every so often we could hear the crunch of something walking or landing nearby, but in the almost complete darkness knew it would be useless to try and identify what it was.  Nothing attempted to approach, so I’m sure whatever it was had been benign… or at the least, more curious than hungry.  We’d call back to the animals who called out to one another and us.  And every so often our giggles and hoots would cause curiouser sounds to come back to us on the night air.

It was close to one a.m. when the kid passed gas, giggling when her Dad suggested it was probably a duck who had made the noise. Then we all fell silent again, just in time for him to let one rip too:  “Yep, it was a duck.”  And I’ll admit it, in the stillness of the dark and wild night, I let one go too:  “Lot’s of ducks out tonight.”  We all cracked up when a duck, with perfect comedic timing, seemed to quack in reply.

Time passed both too quickly and too slowly.  It’s amazing how quickly the night air chills you, even in August when the days are still hot.  In spite of laying so close to one another on that soft bed of grass that our arms and legs intertwined, in spite of the heat I could feel being generated between our bodies lying there, we chilled all too quickly… making time feel slow.  And memories, dear, precious memories being formed, the kind that will last a lifetime, making time feel all too fast.

“How many more meteors do you want to see?”

“Two”

“Okay, we’ll wait for two more.”

“Oh!  There’s one!”

“I didn’t see it, that one doesn’t count.”

“Over there?  Did you see that one?”

“I did.”

“I didn’t.  It doesn’t count either.”

And so our last two quickly became four or five…  but who was counting anyway.  😉

Happy Birthday Marie!

Today is Marie’s birthday.  She’s 28, which blows my mind more than a little.  I still remember that little girl who joined our family over two decades ago…  who would play under the pool table, so unsure of herself and her new family.  That girl who grew to be the center of my world for a very long time…  whom I would make time to sing with every time I visited home after I moved out.  Her favourite song for a while was “There’s a big green monster under my bed”.  She’d giggle like mad as I did all the actions, and then we’d have to do it all again.  I remember her singing at my wedding…  I was fine all during the ceremony, the toasts, the reception, but her singing “You are my sunshine” had me fighting back the tears.  Then we had Lily-Ann, and there really was no choice at all.  It was a no brainer.  Lily-Ann is Lily-Ann Marie.  And oh those two get on each others nerves at times.  LOL  But it definitely gets better as the kid gets a little older, and can understand how special Marie is.

So…  anyway…  Today is Marie’s birthday.  And here we are singing the happy birthday song as my sister Riki carries in the cake:

One of Marie’s favourite jokes, and it’s one that is all her own, is to say your name repeatedly…  wait for you to give her your undivided attention, and for the room to go quiet, then both say and sign “flashlight”.  So, without fail, someone always gives her a flashlight for her birthday.  She loves them, and it only fuels her little gag.  This year the joke ended up being on us, as she’s sure that our gift is a cellphone:

Over all?  I’d say it was a successful party for someone who means the world to us.  🙂

Happy Birthday Marie!!!!

You make me crazy.  😉

Unpacking boxes from 1983 – 1987.

I’ve spent the last couple of evenings sitting on the floor in my parent’s basement, going through old boxes of my things deciding what to keep and what to toss.  So far I’ve sorted through everything packed away in grades two, three, four, and five (and a box of miscellaneous stuff).  I was an interesting kid.  LMAO

Going through the boxes from grades two and three had me laughing…  a lot.  The artwork was so demented.  LOL  Pictures of animals stabbing other animals, people being eaten by sharks, Mr. T made several appearances – always in action saving someone.  And then there were the pretty pictures of My Little Ponies and unicorns (that helped to balance out the crazier killing spree illustrations).  And reading my school work it was evident that I was completely content and at ease there.  I’d written letters to my teachers and the principal telling them how awesome I thought they were and how I was going to “tell my mom to buy them anything they wanted.”  It was great.

Tonight things weren’t quite so entertaining.  There were still moments that brought a grin to my face – like discovering an old MASH game paper that had me married to Micheal Jackson, poor, and living in Hawaii…  but hey!  It did get the “one kid” prediction right.  But generally there had been a shift.  My school work went from marks of 96 to 100 percent down to a lot of sixties and seventies with a few nineties in language arts.  Many assignments handed in unfinished.  And the tone of my short stories changed, a lot of the hope that was there in grades two and three weren’t there in grade five.  My art work stared a lot of “pretty” girls with big lips and big hair…  but there was still a good measure of My Little Ponies, as well as unicorns and flying horses.  As I discovered gender more so to did my interest in it.  Grade four saw a host of characters there were described as “half boy, half girl”.

Over all it’s been an interesting couple of nights.  Still lots of boxes to go.  I have a box for every year of school I attended – from grades one to twelve anyway.  If I can cut things down, even by half, I’ll be happy.  We’re gonna get a big tub that can hold everything.  It’s time to find a place here to store it all, time to get it out of my parent’s place.  Sitting on the floor has my body a little upset with me but it’s easier to be down with all the boxes and piles (keep, toss, and undecided).  I may have to bring a camera along next time…  so I can capture anything worth sharing.  😉

And hey!  Know anyone who collects Dallas trading cards, Micheal Jackson trading cards, or any other cards from the mid-80’s?  I may have some they need.  LOL

To one of the most important men in my life…

I finally figured it out, what has been bothering me the last few days.  I’ve been really stressed and feeling overwhelmed – more so than I should be.  Sure I’m in the middle of planning the Green Party’s AGM, and I’m working on a number of other projects too…  but nothing that should have been causing the feeling of being crushed under too much that I was experiencing.

Last night I was running everything through my head, doing a bit of a check list.  What I had accomplished, what I still needed to accomplish, what I could work on the next day…  That’s when it hit me.  The overwhelmed feeling is about my Grampa’s birthday.

Okay, okay…  I know.  That’s a little odd.  But let me give you a little back story.

My mom was still a girl, just a teen, when she had me.  And I’ve always been so grateful for everything she sacrificed for me.  She was a single, teen, mom…  just being ONE of those things can be tough, but she was all three.   Because of this, my Grampa was the man in my life when I was really young.  Almost all of my earliest memories center around time with him, or at his house.  Even after Mom met Dad, and the three of us became a family, Grampa remained an ever steady, ever present part of my life.

Grampa took me camping, a lot.  He instilled in me a love and respect for nature.  An awe at the miracles that surround us, the miracles in the every day.  We fished.  We camped.  We rode bikes (well, I didn’t ride until I was twelve, so mostly I got rides on his bike).  We took trips.  We went to family reunions.  Grampa was always there.

In high school he remained as steadfast as ever.  Once a week he’d pick me up early and we’d go for “coffee” before classes.  I always had a hot chocolate.  Those mornings were sooo important to me.  And I knew that if I was ever in  a spot I could count on him.  He’d pick me up and give me rides to Youth, and drove to come get me TWICE on Sundays for morning and evening service.  He was my best friend.  It may not have been a ‘cool’ thing to admit, but if anyone ever asked me, I was always the first to tell them exactly that.  My Grampa was my bestie, my BFF.  I was popular, I had lots of friends…  but none of them came close to the love and friendship that he and I shared.

When Grampa married Joan I was in University…  and I’ll admit it…  I disliked her out of pure jealousy.  All the time that he used to spend with me, well, he now spent with her.  No, I wasn’t cut out of the picture entirely.  We still spent several days a week together…  but I was jealous.  I was a kid, and my best friend had found a new best friend.  Now I look back and am more than a little embarrassed about feeling that way.  I love Joan, she’s a member of the family, and I’m so glad that Grampa has her…  and that we have her too.

That was the beginning of our separation.  Slowly, as I grew up, the gap widened.  We spent less time together.  Our interests didn’t lead us in the same directions.  And these days (fifteen years later) I’m lucky to see Grampa once a month… and often that is just in passing.

So, the idea that my Grampa, one of the most important men people in my life, will be turning EIGHTY?!?!?  Well…  it’s hit me rather hard.  77, 78, 79… no problem.   But 80 is different.  80 is hard.

I’m in the middle of helping to plan his birthday party…  trying to track down people that he and I used to see all the time.  The Morin’s, the Lutz’s, people who’s names I’ve forgotten but who’s faces I remember…  people who were adults, who I  smiled at and waved to from the other end of the Church that my Grampa and I helped to build (both literally and figuratively).  I’m hoping to find them all, so they too can help celebrate the man who has meant so very much to me, who has ALWAYS been there…  who I know I can still count on no matter what.

No.  Not all our memories are blissful and happy. Like the time we drove to Wisconsin for a family reunion…  Grampa, two of my younger cousins, and myself.  Then came home with lice from one of the motels we stayed in on the trip home.  It was SOOOO gross.  They were HUGE.  And I was a TEENAGER!  It was a nightmare.  But even that I can look back on and laugh – because we were in it together.

The fact that this man, my Grampa, is now going to be 80 scares me.

I remember, during one of our “coffee” dates.  He suddenly fell silent and took my hands into his.  “Tobi”, he said.  “I want you to promise me something.”  The mood instantly changed, and I’ve never forgotten it.  It’s something I’ve carried with me my entire life.  “When I die, I don’t want a funeral.”  I remember being totally taken aback.  I was 16, and my Grampa was talking to me about dying.  “Promise me you’ll plan everything.  Throw me a party.  I don’t want anyone to mourn.  When I  die, I’m going home.  It’s something to be celebrated.”  I made that promise, and at the time it was really just my way of trying to get him to stop talking about it.

Grampa has never been old, and I can’t imagine him ever being old.  He’s always been active.  Even when his pain got the better of him, he’d just find a new way to keep being active.  He’d give up one thing, but would find something else.  He’s been a member of a gym now for about six months.  Goes a few times a week, and is better shape than he’s been in for some time.  He’s not old, so I don’t know what that number scares me.  That number may be old, but my Grampa is not.

So…  here’s to my Grampa!  One of the best men I know.  To another entire lifetime.  To him never getting tired, never slowing down.  To him, and all he’s given me.  To the love we shared, and continue to share (despite growing somewhat apart).  He’s amazing…  and I look forward to celebrating him with our family and all his friends this February.

Will he get a chance to read this?  Not as long as it’s solely available online.  He sold his computer after a few months, claiming he didn’t receive enough email for it to be worth the trouble.  LOL

I love you Grampa.

a scrapbook layout I did using photos from grampas last birthday

Bill Guskjolen’s 80th Birthday

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173829629326890

Friend of Bill’s?

Hope to see you in February at his birthday party.

See the link above for all the details.

Our second chapter book.

Reading with my dad is one of my earliest memories.  He used to sit beside my bed and read me some of the greatest stories ever written.  It’s where my love of books began.  I still have the copies of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that he read me all those years ago.  They are beat up pretty bad, and can barely hold in their pages…  but they are very well loved, having been read again and again and again.  I hope that one day my daughter will look back on our night time reads with the same fondness, and that it will inspire her to a lifetime of adventuring.

Lily-Ann and I finished our first chapter book on December 26th.  It was an adaptation of Tangled (the new Disney princess movie based on the Rapunzel fairy tale).  We found it in her school book order, and I figured we should give it a go.

On Tuesday we picked our current read.  I first consulted my most trusted group of writerly friends (the MomWriters, an email based group of women writers of which I’ve been a member for the last ten years).  I look forward to following up on many of their recommendations.  But this go round the girlie favoured the first book in the Fairy Blossoms series by Suzanne Williams, Daisy and the Magic Lesson.

So far, we have BREEZED through the first29 pages.  Its such an easy, flowing read.  And the characters are so personable, a group of nine year old fairies just beginning at Mistress Lily’s fairy school, what could be more delightful?  I have a feeling we’ll be sticking with this series for a while.

the next chapter

tonight's chapter...

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