We hear the beating of wings over Bethlehem and a light that is not of the sun or of the stars shines in the midnight sky. Let the beauty of the story take away all narrowness, all thought of formal creeds.
Here is my list of suspects who should steer clear of Christmas tunes:
Leonard Cohen With the exception of "Blue Christmas" I suspect sales would plummet to depths unknown if Leonard was suddenly overhead trying to convince shoppers to have a "Holly Jolly Christmas".
Alanis Morissette I cannot imagine Alanis singing "Silver Bells" although I would like to hear her rendition of "Jagged Little Star".
John Coltrane Who knows maybe "A Love Supreme" is a Christmas album and no one has figured this out.
Cher Now Sonny and Cher could have safely released a Christmas Album but definitely not Cher as a solo artist. I also do not want to imagine the frightening alterations Cher would make to an elf costume.
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
Crowfoot Quote- Great Siksika Leader
December dawned into a spectacular day. I took this photo while walking my dog around the neighborhood just over an hour ago. The sun provided the encore to a tranquil landscape of simple stillness. I celebrate the season of Advent over the next few weeks- the season of waiting...it seems like nature too is in a season of waiting. Unlike the human experience the season of waiting in nature seems to be elegantly restorative.
Three years ago today I was sitting on the crumbling ledge of The Great Wall. While sitting there gazing over the mountains I first realized just how small I am and how vast this world is. This was an ironic understanding because just the day before I purchased a men's XXL jacket for myself in a Beijing market. I created quite a spectacle because the shop clerks apparently had never seen a woman such as I trying on men's clothing and quickly retrieved their cellphones to take a picture of me in this men's XXL jacket! Augh! I still have the jacket even though the zipper broke a few days after I bought it.
The day I climbed The Great Wall was one of the best days in my life. Whenever my world begins to crowd in and stifle my perspective I remember the afternoon I sat on this ridge and gratefully take a breath.
On this day three years ago I spent six hours wandering through The Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Ten years earlier I saw a National Geographic article on this alluring place and I dreamed of one day visiting this amazing setting. It is said that if you slept one night in each room of the Forbidden City it would take twenty-seven years to sleep in every room. This is one of the last rooms I found near the end of the day. I was all by myself as I watched the wind pick up the leaves and throw them across the courtyard. One of the few places in China where time has stood still.
This is one of my favourite quirky spots in London, England. The top floor of Victoria Station- sitting at a Wetherspoon's drinking a cider- watching the intersection of the world dash by. One of my dearest memories I recall was one afternoon we were lazily gazing at the stream of humanity pouring by when a special BBC announcement appeared on a big screen above the escalators. The announcement read, "Briton, Norman Kember and Two Fellow Canadian Hostages Freed in Iraq -James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden". When we saw these names appear on the screen we jumped up and shouted a spontaneous cheer, embraced one another and wept. Somehow it felt that much more poignant that we heard this news outside our country.Maybe because we feel just a little more vulnerable than we care to admit when we travel abroad. Maybe because so many predicted the slim odds of finding these men alive. An unexpected joy in an unexpected place.
"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast." Ernest Hemingway
This was the sight I took in last week while sipping cafe creme at Paul Bakery on Rue St. Michel in Paris. How did this happen? My girlfriend called me fourteen days ago and casually asked, "Do you want to go to Paris?" Faster than one can inhale a pain aux raisin I booked a flight and found a flat in Montmartre. We walked, ate, drank, shot and simply lived a spectacular week. Here's a glimpse.
Not all bikes are in such a sorry state. TheVelibsystem allows you to rent a bike for 1 Euro a day and cycle all through Paris provided you return the rental within 30 minutes to a Velib station. What a remarkable way to see Paris! Nothing compares to cycling the immense courtyard of the Louvre and exploring its empty corners abandoned by weary pedestrians.
then joining the deranged traffic around the Concord roundabout (sans bike helmet augh!)
and cycling through the changing colours of the Champs D'lysses.
Three months ago I was incessantly watching Jason Mraz videos particularly his Live High video from Paris. I never expected to be walking /cycling those same streets before the year was finished. This shows me once again that I need to set my sights higher. Dream with more boldness.
I took this photo while touring the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art last Spring and recently had it printed on a 24x36 canvas as a giclée print. If I had to choose one of the highlights of this extraordinary museum it would be this room in which the entire exhibit has been reconstructed as an Italian Villa. The suspended fervency of this couple's embrace seemed so real I couldn't move from their gaze for a long time. I picked up the giclee print on Friday and when it was unwrapped for me to examine I had a difficult time restraining my tears. The canvas took me back to that room, that moment, and the sense of overwhelming reverence that someone could create life from stone.
It's been a year since I've been blogging and I've made a few discoveries. 1. I love reading other blogs and sometimes making a comment or two rather than posting to my own blog. This also reflects my conversation style. I am more comfortable listening rather than sharing my experience depending on the person or the group. 2. I sometimes feel a discomfort with posting comments on other blogs because I wonder if the intent will somehow be misinterpreted. 3. The blogs that are engaging belong to authors who take risks with communicating their perceptions. Those who toss about notions that challenge social conventions normally not challenged in public discourse are intriguing not so much for what they present but the reactions that they invite. 4. Blogging appears to be an effective reflective tool but this arena is too public for me. 5.The relationships developed online don't seem comfortable to me. I think this because without the visual verification I really don't know who I'm interacting with. It feels more like a role play. But then isn't every interaction a type of role play?
So what advice do you have for this reluctant blogger who has more insecurities than she cares to admit about this process and this venue?
Ta daa! A new hot pink racquet! I spent a much longer period of time searching for and trying out different tennis racquets than I did purchasing my last vehicle and or my home. Oddly enough I'm even more excited about this purchase than a car or a house. What is that? I guess I consider a car just another utilitarian object. I've had my share of 'clunkers' so I am grateful to own a reliable vehicle but I don't have a lot of personal investment in my car. Sometimes I feel more owned by my house and all the responsibility and provisions it requires rather than owning and thriving in this space.
The racquet represents freedom. The chance to discover something about an experience that presents a new reference point each time I hit (or mishit) the ball. It also illustrates the chance to recognize the athlete in me which has never really been a part of my projected identity. The racquet also represents a very rewarding way to get to know people. I find it very interesting how rapport is developed across the net with one's opponent. Over the course of several weeks our personal narrative is revealed in brief remarks or unexpected reactions. I won't be reenacting the Castaway plot and formally name my racquet just yet. I just look forward to the joy of understanding more about the game and about others.
"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all." - Stanley Horowitz
The struggle for survival is waging war in my garden. Acorns are plummeting to the ground like a malfunctioning popcorn machine and the remaining buds are straining to bloom against the withering vines. I already miss summer and the scent of its heat.
“The means to gain happiness is to throw out from oneself like a spider in all directions an adhesive web of love, and to catch in it all that comes”.Tolstoy
There are so many spiders in my backyard.If you crouch down low enough you can see a maze of webs so intricate and yet so precariously anchored. This is best seen in the last photo - the largest web I spotted was secured by single gauzy thread latched to a fading lavender pod.
I emailed my friend a couple of photos from my Summer Esterhazy Adventure. My email included an inspiring embellished story of my encounter with the scary Steak Pit. She replied with this pic taken just outside of Kananaskis. What is with this misguided advertising campaign? Will I wake up some day soon to discover that the Steak Pit has replaced the venerable overpriced Keg Restaurant?
Augh! I dropped my canon powershot in the ocean on Friday. It doesn't look as bad as the above photo but I'm wondering if there is any hope in getting it to work again. My friends suggested I bury the camera in rice to dry it out which I did but after a couple of days it still doesn't turn on. Any suggestions?
I took this shot on a hidden path among the vineyards just outside Vienna.
"A single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives". Henry David Thoreau
I spent a little time looking for more information about people's experiences with the police while trying to shoot photos in public places. There seem to be many more incidents in The United States and United Kingdom. There is a lot of useful information that explains the laws and your rights as a photographer. People have published this information in convenient formats so that you can easily tuck it into your camera bag. In the UK the bust card has been widely distributed to help photographers and in The States Bert Krages has published the Photographer's Right. In Canada the most useful resource I found was a collection of laws by Ambient Light. One of the more controversial policies I discovered was Duncan's decision to impose a royalty fee for photographers taking pictures of totem poles in the city. This policy contravenes the copyright act that states: Copyright Act, 32.2. (1): It is not an infringement of copyright(b) for any person to reproduce, in a painting, drawing, engraving, photograph or cinematographic work(i) an architectural work, provided the copy is not in the nature of an architectural drawing or plan, or(ii) a sculpture or work of artistic craftsmanship or a cast or model of a sculpture or work of artistic craftsmanship, that is permanently situated in a public place or building.
People's perceptions of public, private and 'high security' spaces reflect a broad spectrum of understanding. Personally, I am very conscious of determining what is acceptable in any space before taking out my camera. Given Canada's poor reputation for supporting its citizens when they are travelling overseas I am especially cognisant of my behaviour and interactions when I am in foreign countries. For me this means my camera stays in the bag even when I think I have the chance to take an amazing shot. I always ask permission to take photos although I wouldn't think of it in a field of tulips (see V's comment in last post). When I was in Bangkok there was an incident in which police swarmed a metro station platform where I was standing. It was quite an amazing sight. The police surrrounded a man standing close to me. I instinctively stepped into the next train that stopped even though it wasn't the train I was waiting for because I just knew I didn't want to get swept up in the furor that quickly ignited around me. I guess I could have quickly snapped a shot but is my personal safety and freedom to explore a place I may never see again worth a picture?
I am also not convinced that it is my exclusive right to take photos in public spaces. My understanding of the word, 'public' includes my responsibility to respect other people's perceptions of acceptable interactions which may exclude the use of a camera or any other recording device. I'm still thinking through this issue. What do you think about photography, filming or any other recording in public spaces? Is it an inherent part of our freedom of expression?
In the February 2009 Section 76 of the New Anti Terrorism Act became law in The United Kingdom. This permits the arrest of anyone who may be found to be "eliciting, publishing or communicating information" relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".(BBC News) In the UK there have been widespread reports of people being harassed and/or searched for taking pictures in public places and in areas deemed to be 'high security' including bus stations and government offices.The British Journal of Photography has started a flickr campaign entitled, "Not A Crime" to increase awareness of these restrictions on shooting photos in public. Photographers are invited to shoot and post self portraits holding a sign with the words, "Not a crime" or "I'm not a terrorist" Some very creative conceptions are illustrated in this social media protest. I've never been hassled for taking photos in any place I have travelled. Have you been stopped, questioned, or searched for taking photos in public?
Potash Pete stands proudly across the street from the steak pit and just down the road from Dairyville. Apparently Saskatchewan is famous for its roadside monuments. In fact the Province boasts the world's largest, bunnock, white tail deer and woolly mammoth. You can travel to seventy towns in Saskatchewan to see larger than life statues depicting Santa Claus, kangaroo rats, a Massey combine and even prehistoric creatures. If you cannot sojourn to these places in person then read about these wonders in the book"Larger Than Life"by Robin and Arlene Karpan. Public art on the island is so boring compared to Potash Pete and his compadres. We haveThe Commerce Canoeand my favourite, The Mattressesas well asPavilion Rock and Shell (aka paper, rock and scissors). But we have nothing approachable like Potash Pete. We need a monument for the masses preferably erected on the expansive green lawn of the Empress Hotel. What could it be?
The dining options were somewhat eclectic in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan. One of the hot spots on the main drag was the Beverage Room and Steak Pit. No, I'm lying. I never saw anyone enter or leave this Beverage Room and Steak Pit premises so I did not dare to enter the establishment myself. What is a Steak Pit? I've heard of a Steak House, A Chop House, A Sizzler, A Smoke House but a Steak Pit? Does the chef slaughter and skin the animal right in front of the diners before throwing the carcass on an open fire pit? The good news is I have an opportunity to return to Esterhazy by September 22 to defend a speeding ticket I received and discover the true Steak Pit experience. The other dining option was Dairyville with its vintage sign and original spelling convention. I just couldn't work past the fear of eating a hamberger so I feasted on ice cream instead. At least I think it was ice cream...
I'm still savouring my recent trip to Saskatchewan. Its opulent simplicity feels like a feather bed for the soul. It seems fitting to quoteDavid Bouchardwhile I illustrate my impressions of the place where my ancestors eked out an existence with the volatile climate. I discovered that when the wind storms blew away the soil on my great grandfather's farm he and his wife and three children walked away from the land they had tried to tame and he took up the trade of a stonemason at the age of 55.
They started their life again by making their home in a silo on the Shackleton farm just outside of Kennedy, Saskatchewan. My great grandfather found work with the stonemasons constructing the Moose Mountain Resort. He also worked on many of the stone structures that furnish the popular resorts such as the Banff Springs Hotel and the Jasper tourist centre.
My grandmother soon realized there were few opportunities for her and she moved to Vancouver in 1938. My grandfather Shackleton followed her out West and proposed to her when he stepped off the train in Vancouver. He always emphasized that he purchased a ticket to ride inside the train rather than 'ride the rails' as many were forced to do in order to find employment.
We are the only branch that came out West. My entire grandfather's Shackleton family has remained on the prairies. We returned this month to celebrate my Great Aunt's 100th birthday.
I took these photos on the road between Esterhazy and Yorkton~just before I received a speeding ticket!
Words by David Bouchard, "If You're Not From The Prairie"
While dining at Superiors a few days ago I noticed this huge tree in the middle of the restaurant courtyard filled with hundreds of shoes. You make a donation, throw a pair of shoes into the tree and make a wish. Proceeds go to a local charity. Hmm... I'm not sure if it has the same aesthetic effect as a rippling, glimmery fountain but judging by the hundreds of shoes it is very popular. I wondered if the patrons dined and then went home without shoes? Or did they bring an extra pair with them? I should have asked the server but she seemed a little frazzled by the four customers she was serving.:) So for now the origin the shoes remains a mystery.
I've experienced some pretty cool stuff in my life and this ranks as one of my top ten experiences. Over the weekend I visited the Blue Whale Project in Victoria and learned all about this amazing reconstruction project. This rivals anything that I have seen in the greatest museums in the world because I was able to encircle and touch the real bones of a blue whale. Most skeletal exhibitions are casts of the bones but these are the real vertebrae, the real gigantic jaw bone, the real ribs of a blue whale...for those of us old enough to remember, we were once taught that this largest mammal of the world was extinct. I remember reading the World Book Encyclopedia and seeing those sad words, "Extinct" beside the humble illustration of the blue whale. This blue whale was discovered off the coast of P.E.I. in 1987 and buried for twenty years before being excavated and transported to the other side of the Canada. The remarkable thing about this visit was that there were hardly any visitors at the site so there was lots of time to talk to the friendly biologists and really begin to appreciate this astounding species.
After several precious hours researching the best Canadian movie I settled on, "Stone of Destiny" but my destiny was to change when I walked into Blockbuster and recounted my pathetic choice to the cool video dude encrusted in Blockbuster blue polyester standing slightly unconscious behind the ominous candy laden video counter. Immediately the kind but corrosive Blockbuster associate mumbled, "One Week" to which I replied, "Oh, I only need the movie, for one night." He patiently responded, "No, you want to rent the movie 'One Week' as your Canada Day selection." Then he expertly but dispassionately explained the premise of the movie which included a dying man's trek across Canada in search for true adventure. I quickly tossed "Stone of Destiny" then I almost kissed Blockbuster man. I'm sure he was relieved to just hear my repeated "thank you's" as I skipped out the door. The conclusion to the saga? A beautiful summer's eve was spent watching an inspiring feel good Canadian movie about a man's great trek across this expansive country on a Norton motorcyle. Quintessentially Canadian? Well it was brimming with quirky, quaint, and foolhardy quintessential Canadian characteristics.
The invitations are out and RSVP's are flying back fast. I've just invited the neighborhood to a Canada Day Celebration this Wednesday, July 1. We're going to take advantage of our hideously long driveway and watch a movie on a huge screen under the stars. The problem is, I can't seem to think of a Canadian classic movie that would represent our quirky national identity. It doesn't have to be purely Canadian but it has to be entertaining to a wide spectrum of people who are watching Wednesday night. I'm really stuck. Does such a movie really exist? Any ideas?
This is where I want to be this morning...in a plane flying over the Cliffs of Dover on my way to embark on a European cycling trip. It's not likely that this will happen today but in the spirit of declarations made by such inspiring bloggers such as Ms. toastburner, I announce this dream today with the intention of doing this before next June 25, 2010. I took this shot on my last escapade to Spain. I was on one of those ridiculous budget airplanes in which I purchased a ticket for 5 pounds and lined up for an eternity in order to be corralled into the flying soup can. For 5 pounds I wasn't complaining. It was a spectacular Spring day and the Cliffs of Dover seem to paint the English Channel with a swirling jet contrail.
Saw this vehicular artistic expression on Robson St. yesterday. When I asked the driver if the car was actually legal to drive he laughed and said that he has been driving the bug for seven years and he has never been stopped by police. I'm thinking this the most creative "chick magnet" I've seen in a while.
A wise colleague took me to the graduation ceremonies today to 'ground' me about the purpose of my work. Admittedly it is sometimes easy to lose focus by dwelling on the politics, power struggles, equity issues in any work environment. I am fortunate to work with someone who can strip away the veneer of extraneous distractions and remind me of just who I am are working for. Thanks M.
This weekend marks the beginning of season for dragonboat competitions. Each boat is comprised of twenty two people who race a straight 400 meter course . The objective is to paddle in unison with short, deep, precise strokes. A typical race takes about two minutes but by the end of those two minutes you're winded and sore. I like this sport because it brings out the best in people- generosity, fun, cooperation and friendly competitiveness.
>I discovered this youtube clip of Jason Mraz walking down a street in Paris just singing (yes, I'm on a Jason Mraz kick right now) His singing isn't 'in your face pay attention' kind of singing. It's almost 'talkin to yourself' kind of singing. What is curious is the reaction of the people he walks by. No one seems to pay attention, except for a child and someone near the end of the song. If Jason walked down the street here singing like that even if no one knew of his notoriety people would likely show some connection- a nod, a swagger. Is this lack of attention just a Parisian thing?
My favourite time of Spring is when the camas bloom. When I walk amid a blanket of these violet blooms I feel surrounded by my Dad. He loved these flowers and cherished his trips to Victoria just to see camas flourishing on the hillside of Beacon Hill Park.
The Victoria Day Parade marks the beginning of the summer tourist season in Victoria. Victoria Day commemorates the birthday of Queen Victoria of England and Canada has celebrated this occasion since 1834. Today the rain patiently waited until the afternoon to ensure that the morning march was a success. I love watching the parade. It's fun connecting with the nostalgic quirky energy of the community. Did anyone else attend the parade?
I took this photo in my Mom's front yard. This is the first year she has tulips in her front yard and they produced quite the show. Tulips actually originated in Turkey and Persia. The word, 'tulip' means turban. Their popularity spread throughout Europe in the 17th century. Everywhere I travel I think of tulips as an expression of gratitude since the Netherlands send tulips to various Allies as a gesture of appreciation. Come to think of it, I think I have seen more tulips outside of the Netherlands than within that country.
Ahh...the pressure of the 50th post. I didn't want to post just anything I was looking for something special, exotic, unique, an 'aha' moment. And like a lot of things in life I trip over the extraordinary and consider it a nuisance. So here's my homage to the "hideous" ~ the humble dandelion. What a phenomenal declaration of beauty. May those who happen to read this post discover beauty in the humble places. If you need perspective today listen to Jason Mraz's song, Beauty In Ugly and remember you are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139).
Beauty In Ugly
she's so big hearted, but not so remarkable just an ordinary humble girl expecting nothing as we're made to think its a pretty person's world
but you are beautiful and you better go show it go look again, you gotta be true to your own if you really wanna go to the top do you really wanna win? don't believe in living normal, just to satisfy demand
well if you wanna get free and if you wanna do the passionate thing and if you wanna get smart for the sake of your heart you should own your name and stand up tall and get real and see the beauty in ugly
well you are fresh, you're face is fabulous don't forget you're one of a kind when nobody is checking the deeds you've done and nobody is hearing your cries you make all of the fashion statements just by dressing up your mind
well if you wanna get free and if you wanna do the passionate thing and if you wanna get smart for the sake of your heart you should own your name and stand up tall and get real and see the beauty in ugly and see the beauty in ugly
well if you wanna get free and if you wanna do the passionate thing and if you wanna get smart for the sake of your heart and oh you should own your name and stand up tall and get real and see the beauty in ugly see the beauty in a ugly