Tuesday, April 27, 2010

emily carr

indian house interior with totems


a woman i look up to is emily carr. i'm not sure how well known she is outside of canada, but i find her truly amazing. born and raised in victoria, british columbia, emily carr never married and followed her passion - painting - and it she would travel great distances throughout her life to enrich her skills to capture that which she wished to express through the medium of paint.
the forests and first nations people of the west coast inspired her throughout her life. she sought to convey the feeling of a scene, and became a student of the impressionist movement then occurrence in france. emily travelled to france and spent some years there to learn the technique, but then returned to her native victoria, travelling up and down the pacific coast visiting first nations villages and painting.

kispiox village

to me, contemplating one of emily's paintings is like sensing what it is to stand amongst ancient trees, the crashing of ocean waves audible yet dulled through the dark and thick carpeting of the tropical forest. i can hear children laughing in a village belonging to seaside cultures richer and older than the thousand year old trees. dogs barking and the smell of damp cedar and woodsmoke on the salty sea breeze. the echo of a raven through dripping leaves.


arbutus tree

kispiox village

in an age where racism and sexism could have easily halted emily's endeavours, she never wavered and pushed to capture the essence of that which she witnessed on canvas. her pieces have contributed to the enrichment of canadian identity.

old time coast village

tree trunk

emily carr
artist, author, woman, visionary, lover of animals

*i had trouble limiting the number of examples of her work, for more, please visit the Vancouver Art Gallery website*

Thursday, April 22, 2010

gimme spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees


while heading to work this morning, joni mitchell's big yellow taxi was played on cbc radio for earth day... couldn't think of a more fitting song for today :)

to our dear mum, the earth

many are blogging today about earth day, which i am quite happy about. but i must say that what's even better than a kind thought, is a kind act. and rather than enumerating all the negative things that are presently occurring and hurting our dear 'ol mum, today i contemplate all that is breathtaking and mysterious about her.

earth day also coincides with my reading of in defense of food by michael pollan. what i'm grasping the most with his writings is that everything is over-complicated. we're thinking too much about what we're eating and then eating food-like substances (ie. low-fat, low-carb, vitamin added, processed, etc.) that are themselves insanely complicated and the furthest thing from what we should truly be eating. we must take steps backwards from the distance we have put between ourselves and our mum, the earth.

so this earth day,

think of the simple yet extraordinary things that matter throughout our existence...
the people we love,
sun warmed veggies from your own garden,

consideration for awesome the beauty and magic which surrounds us,

soft bed sheets and the sound of frogs and crickets at night just outside the window,
a best and most loyal friend...

our time spent with this lady is a blessing...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

clean white love

loving my new favorite discovery of lisa mitchell's music! she's so sweet and writes well! i love her hair and red lipstick! i should spend more time frolicking in the woods wearing red rubber boots with proper friends, exploring, playing with sparklers, dancing, picnic-ing, petting horses...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


there's something to be said about wallpaper; a detail often forgotten in many modern homes and renovations, yet glorious when remembered. certain wallpapers are so lovely that they must be well worth the labour and care. when visiting toronto a few years ago with some friends, i was entirely caught up in the old wallpaper which covered the walls of an old bank which now houses the stanley cup, while my friends gawked at the cup. it was a rich green colour with endless curlicues that caught the light and gleamed like magic. it almost seemed alive.
i had to stop myself this weekend from buying a forty-dollar book about wallpaper and various prints, both vintage and modern. i especially love vintage prints...
recently, i was gushing about wallpaper to my boyfriend, who knows i very much dislike modern drywall, to which he commented slyly, "you know you'd need drywall if you wanted wallpaper". fine. i guess i'll have SOME drywall in my dream home, but only to accommodate some glorious vintage-print wallpaper.

dreams of having birds, flowers, berries on my wall in rich, royal colours...

Monday, April 12, 2010

dreams of provence

the latest episode of anthony bourdain: no reservations aired last night. i love anthony bourdain. i read his book, kitchen confidential, enthusiastically last summer and was greatly entertained with his sarcasm and story-telling capabilities. it is this book that led to his eventual hosting of no reservations. he's intelligent, eager, curious, and a foodie. bourdain doesn't present an area and its inhabitants as would a travel agent; smoothing over any shadows. he acknowledges that the complete history of a people has contributed to food and culture. corners of the world visited are presented - i believe - honestly. last night bourdain ventured to provence. yes, it's spectacular, yes it draws tourists like flies to a jar of honey. there's a reason for it though. it's freaking provence. i now find myself dreaming of charcuterie, infinite varieties of cheeses, fizzing glasses of iced ricard, a sunny sky and meals served in a courtyard surrounded by trees and flowers. oh, and i am desperate to find a mortar and pestle to try my hand at making proper aioli.

dreaming of summer. missing the endless supply of fresh herbs and vegetables in my yard.

there's something important, i find, in appreciating our food. appreciating our food and the people with which we share it seems to be often forgotten in my little bubble which is north america. eating quality ingredients in quality dishes which are shared with quality people says something about being able to enjoy life. the same notion as "stopping to smell the roses", or the garlic.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

mumford and sons - winter winds


everyone should at one time burst running, laughing from a wood with balloons, covered in feathers and draped with flags...

a thought on jane eyre

while walking my dog this morning my thoughts turned to jane eyre as ruby sniffed amongst the brushes and i stared at the creaking, budding trees outside the house. it's been over a month now since i've read the book, and it's been over a month now since it became part of my all-time favorite books list.

i had read wuthering heights in high school and had also immediately fallen in love. around christmastime i felt the urge to read it once more, and that i did. i'll most likely be posting about wuthering heights in the times to come. for the last year or so i've been quite taken up with reading classic novels, especially those of the gothic and romantic periods. after re-reading wuthering heights i thought it only fitting to read jane eyre. i found an old copy of jane eyre amongst my parents' piles of books. from page one i was hooked. jane eyre is unique as a heroin. she doesn't dream of finding mr. perfect, she strives to do her work well and to be a respectable person and throughout it all she sticks to her guns. in times of self-doubt, i believe she still knows herself well enough and follows her heart. i love the gothic elements in the novel; when jane and mr. rochester first meet. i love the humour which exists in their relationship, which is not simply all sighs and passion. the two genuinely get along. oh how i wish to visit haddon hall and dream of it as thornfield manor...

to say the least i am captivated by the bronte sisters and their work.



Thursday, April 8, 2010


i often find myself with trees on the brain. there is something infinitely captivating about a tree. how old is it? what birds have sung amongst its branches? they are also ever-changing, in perfect sync with the world. there are also the memories i have of being amongst trees which make me love them. we are welcome to dream, to climb, and to ponder in their presence. magic can exist for a moment when the wind rustles the branches and the leaves play their own music in the golden sun. we are brought back closer to where we belong.

there is a poem i stumbled upon in a copy of "100 classic poems" given to me by a friend. the poem is "trees" by james joyce (1914).
      I THINK that I shall never see
      A poem lovely as a tree.
      A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
      Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
      A tree that looks at God all day,
      And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
      A tree that may in Summer wear
      A nest of robins in her hair;
      Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
      Who intimately lives with rain.
      Poems are made by fools like me,
      But only God can make a tree.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

the woman in black

i've copied and pasted a page from susan hill's website about her process of writing a traditional ghost story. there are also pasted images from the ottawa little's theatre production of the woman in black (2009) and from the film version of the novel (1999). i've read the book, i've seen the film, and i've seen the play in ottawa. since childhood i've been a fanatic of ghostly tales and the woman in black is a favorite of mine. i found myself unable to read the book at night-time when the moon cast shadows outside my bedroom window. after seeing the film i found it necessary to call my brother distract myself with reruns of 'friends'. i had to rave to someone about the brilliance of the play production; it inspired the use of pre-television imagination, when the power of story-telling could entrance a crowd... i still dream of writing my own complete ghost story, all the while keeping the following steps written out by susan hill as guidance.

The Woman in Black Print E-mail

This, the first ghost story I wrote began as a challenge to myself. I had always loved reading ghost stories but was surprised by how few fill length ones there are – The Turn of the Screw is the most famous but mainly both the Victorian ones, when the genre was in its heyday, and any later, are short stories. I decided I would see if I could bring off a full-length ghost story and I began by making a list of essential ‘ingredients.’ These included:

1 A haunted place. A lonely house or church

2. Atmosphere

3. Weather – fog or mist, dusk, twilight, drizzle…

4. A ghost – not as silly as it sounds. The ghost story is not necessarily a horror story and it must have a ghost, which is defined as the spirit of someone now dead which looks as they looked in life and which is seen by people still living.

5. The ghost must have a purpose – that seemed essential. There has to be a motive for the hauntings. It is not very interesting if a dark-robed monk walks through walls or a veiled lady drifts up and down a staircase frightening people but doing nothing much else and without any reason or purpose.

I wrote the book in 6 weeks during one summer holiday, every morning while my 5 year old daughter was looked after by a 20 year old medical student, who gave her a wonderful time. It was typed up for me by the student’s sister, then doing a secretarial course but as she couldn`t read my writing, I dictated it onto a tape and she started taking it down. But after a short time, she could only do it if someone else was in the house – she found it just too frightening to work on alone. A good sign if ever there was one !

The book started out modestly but then it had a stroke of luck. Actor/author Stephen Mallatratt picked it up at the airport bookshop en route for a Greek holiday. He was looking for something to adapt as a play to go on in the small studio theatre at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough at Christmas and lying on the Greek beach, he had a brilliant idea about to make my ghost story work onstage.

The rest is history. The play has been running in London’s West End since 1989, after starting out in Scarborough and it has played in almost every country in the world. A major feature film of it is now in development by Hammer films, and shooting should start in 2010.

But The Woman in Black began as a book, my first ghost story, and will always be a book, as well as everything else. That’s the beauty of it.