Penny in Your Shoe

Penny in Your Shoe

Someone asked me why I have a penny in my shoe. I was told that it may bring prosperity.

One of the women who told me this has a very nice home with lovely art on the walls. It appeared to have worked for her. This doesn’t seem too difficult to do, I thought, I can do this. Now I have a tiny metal reminder clinking around my left toe, or sometimes it works its way down towards the side of my arch.

Sometimes I might fish around the bottom of my purse, find a penny and force unsuspecting friends to sneak one into their shoes.

Why not get all the help you can get?

Has it worked you may ask? Are you wealthy yet? I have to tell you – it is beginning to work.

Each time I grow weary of some endeavor or another the tiny tapping of the coin reminds me to keep at it. Finish this job and on to the next, because money is important. And I know those of you who have money, may interject, “No no! It is not important at all” But I believe it is important. We must have money to buy food to eat, we must pay the mortgage. That little piece of metal is my daily reminder to keep moving forward, keep learning new things.

“Keep at it,” says that bit of copper rubbing my skin.

There is a lot of interesting history on those clunky looking penny loafer shoes. They were made to store a penny in a little pocket on the top.  This money was so that teenagers would be able to call their parents from a phone booth! How quaint. First, it was a penny, then it was meant to hold a dime. Now, kids shoes would have a little opening for their expensive thousand dollar cell phones, the shoes could be called grand loafers. Inflation is tough.

Click on the link below to see more of Sonya Clark’s artwork and not just shoes made out of pennies.

http://sonyaclark.com/gallery/

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I’m Gonna Fix that Rat in Mi Kitchen

I’m Gonna Fix that Rat in Mi Kitchen

 

Some days ya gotta just go with it. If your island is overrun with rats you have to just put on vintage ( how could that be? does that mean I’m vintage?) UB40 and rock out while your husband feeds the rat your blue cheese that was to be for your Caesar salad.  He is really a clever one. Basically, we are feeding him—numerous times a day. Each time he sneaks up steals the cheese and we reset it again. Luckily he doesn’t seem interested in our cucumbers. Phew! Although, yesterday we did catch his less clever brother Al.

Here is some UB40 to help all you farmers out there struggling with naughty vermin… and not the nice vermin like Bernard the mouse from the Rescuers who help small children either- but the kind with beady eyes and fluffy fur and a huge appetite.

This great song that should be listened to on those nights when it’s too hot to sleep and you just want to sit on your deck in your undies…after watching a fun game of baseball when the sun was so strong all you could see was a cloud of dust as they ran the bases. But the beer was cold and the hot dogs were great.

Click on the link below for this great song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLoXFmJBvlk

The Best We Could Do- Graphic Memoir

The Best We Could Do- Graphic Memoir

I managed to squeeze in a bit of reading with a very busy schedule. This is why sometimes I appreciate graphic novels- when you feel like you wish you could read more but find after very long days you may not have as much brain power as you might like.

I really enjoyed Thi Bui’s first illustrated memoir titled The Best We Could Do. I think a friend of a friend recommended it, which is sometimes the best way to find an interesting book.

There is no way to feel removed from this story, it begins with a picture of the author’s stomach as she is in labour for the first time. It explores her fears of not only being a new mother but the worry that her child might be adversely affected by  “the demons” of her families past. She explores the question, will her own child be free of all the detritus that comes from a history of loss and war?

Bui’s novel is beautiful to hold and look at, the pages and colours she has chosen make the book feel like you are looking at vintage photographs.  The author interviews her family to draw out their painful stories of what it was like to grow up during times of famine and war and what courage it took to get on a boat to escape your home country.

Thi Bui gains not only stories from Vietnam but gains empathy for her mother. A hard lesson learned for many daughters.

 

 

 

Pottery Love

Pottery Love

 

As I sit here in the hot car waiting for a late ferry- (you must never be impatient if you live on an island)- I pull out my boxes (yes, boxes) of homemade pottery and can’t stop holding and marveling at the surfaces, the colours, the specks of gold and blues. These are mugs  that I made with my own two hands!

 I hope nobody sees me trace my finger over the tiny flower or the smudgy outline of black birds.

Why can’t I put them down..is it because they are so beautiful? No. They are bottom heavy and dripping with too many layers of glaze. The mugs are a hodgepodge of styles from sgraffitto- a scratched in pattern that makes very striking black and white pottery- to stamped flowers, starfish ( of course) and birds.

I can’t keep my hands off of these misshapen cylinders, the mistakes hidden ( not so cleverly) beneath a glittering copper raku finish.

And yet. I turn my little- what could it be, a wooden spoon holder? A pen holder? I hold them  in my hands one by one, unable to put them down.

My teacher said on the first day of class- –that clay is honest. I think what he meant was that there is no way to cheat it… you have to be patient, weigh out your clay, work it carefully, not too wet, not too dry. And if you have ugly work, that is thick rimmed, with god awful colours it is because you are a beginner, there is no hiding this fact. All the beautiful pottery we use on a day to day basis-these pieces from potters are the ones who kept at it to make those lovely shapes, comfortable to hold and to drink from or eat our bowls of popcorn from. 

And if I get better at it, if I do carry on with it— and I think I will, because I am caught in it’s spell of wedging and molding and waiting and glazing and waiting some more… then I will get better and maybe my next load won’t have glazes that are too thick, or lumpy- each time, little by little the forms will improve.

I will let you know when I get better….. Honest.

 

 

 

Birthdays Are For the Birds

Birthdays Are For the Birds

 

How has it been a year since the last birthday suit special? Birthdays to me these days are not exactly a time to celebrate but a time to reflect and be sentimental about my life. What have I accomplished? Where am I headed?

I am taking a very intensive ceramics course at VIU. Yesterday I was in the studio for over eight hours, not including the commute. So when I woke up today I forgot it was my birthday! I forgot to sit outside in solitude and listen to the birds like I used to do as a child. I must have been an odd child, come to think of it. Just recently in class we had to make ocarinas, little clay flutes. I remember my father gave me one as gift when I was a child. Was I seven or eight years old? It was a little flute in the shape of a bird. I used to sit on a step-ladder in the back yard, to be closer to the tree tops and play that flute, I think it only had one or two notes… I was trying to communicate with the birds.

I really haven’t come that far from those days. Not too long ago, as I was taking out the compost, I heard a bird calling out in quite a complicated tune. I whistled to it, and it answered back! I was so excited! My dream had come true! I could  finally communicate with another species!

For years ( as a child) I was  obsessed with catching a live bird. I had never thought out what I would do after I caught one. But believe it or not, one day I actually did catch a baby blue jay in my hands. I guess it was opportunity meets preparation. I had spent months stalking birds, they were so close, yet so fast! They knew what I was up to and darted away every time! This was a time before too much technology, when children would spend their days outside hiding underneath shrubbery, crawling around in the dirt, daring each other to eat unknown berries …you know who you are! I was advised right away to let the baby bird go of course. But my dream did come true. Here I am at my birthday wishing intently to catch a bird ( or maybe I am wishing for a mood ring ( see picture below)… see? Make a wish and try for it. It may actually come true.

 

Book Review- The Stranger in the Woods The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

Book Review- The Stranger in the Woods The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

I have just finished a very compelling biography written by Michael Finkel- The Stranger in the Woods- The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit. It is a fascinating account of the life of Chris Knight, a man who made the choice to leave his home town and family to live alone in the woods for almost thirty years. To survive he stole food from the cabins and camps within walking distance from his hidey hole in the forest. He never started a fire, for fear of being discovered and only traveled at night and often in the rain when he thought he would least likely be spotted.

Knight is described as a lover of books– he is well versed in the Tao Te Ching. He enjoys stories like Robinson Crusoe or war history books. He read whatever stolen books he could lay his hands on. He rigged up an antennae and listened to late night talk radio, classic rock and classical music. Oddly enough he enjoyed listening to Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond. Because he was so elusive, he was dubbed the North Pond Hermit or sometimes the Hungry Man.

 

There are also many interesting tidbits in this book on the history of hermits.  In Europe during the Middle Ages the people who wanted to live away from society  were called anchorites- they were often bricked into tiny dark cells and were taken care of by the church. Pursuers are explained as people who escape human contact to write, philosophize or create art. Finkel peppers this story with some scientific explanations  as to why some people may be more prone to avoiding society- there are studies that prove genetics could be part of the factor. Low levels of oxytocin mixed with high quantities of the hormone vasopresin may cause a person to need less human interactions.

I felt the author was suggesting that people like Knight are not a total anomaly- every other country seems to have a place or name for these kinds of people. It was also interesting to read about the completely different reactions the local residents had about Knight. Some hated him, while others were more accepting. One  enterprising man tried to leave him a pen and paper to offer him food or anything else he required so that he wouldn’t have to steal. Although the word hermit in our culture has a bad connotation to it- after reading this book I have a new perspective on hermits. Now I will think of someone who may have an intellectual bent and a close commune with nature.

One of the best insights into Knights soul ( I think) is when Knight explains how he decided it was best not to have a pet, so he wouldn’t have to compete for food with it. Instead he reveals how he was very fond of a shelf mushroom that grew slowly along side his campsite.

This book is a gentle account of a man who knew that the only peace he could find for himself was to be left  completely alone in nature. A feat that seems close to impossible in our modern day world.

Click below for one of the many songs about Chris Knight

http://wickedfunny.tv/maine-music-video-we-dont-know-the-north-pond-hermit/

Want to understand Chris Knight better? Here is a link to The Tao Te Ching

http://www.with.org/tao_te_ching_en.pdf

Why Did the Octopus Eat Its Own Leg?

Why Did the Octopus Eat Its Own Leg?

I always wonder what I look like- gazing at a painting…

Last week I orchestrated an overnight trip to Vancouver. It was hard to get motivated to leave the comfort of my own home. I always have too many excuses to feel like leaving the island to go to a busy city and spend too much money on BC ferries just to go see art. Such as; my life is too busy, I have too many projects on the go, what about the dog, the gardening, etc etc.?

So it was with a great amount of effort that we hauled ourselves off to see Takashi Murakami’s, The Octopus Eats its Own Leg at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

I know what you are thinking, that it sounds like the beginning of a joke that a fourth grader might tell you standing around the monkey bars–Why did the octopus eats its own leg? The name drew us in I’ll admit. Not only children are intrigued by octopi.

My husband dropped me at the front doors to line up early on a Monday morning… which turned out to be a great and uncrowded time to visit. Only a smattering of school classes were sitting around the large bright paintings, sketching and listening to their guides. 

There is nothing like the Vancouver Art Gallery to inspire you!  We stopped midway for a break to eat eggs and toast at a pricey cafe across the street and then went back for more. Was it worth all the trouble? Yes it was! Besides being an enjoyable way to spend the day, these pieces sparked many new ideas for us to make new art projects! More and more stuff we must now make, on top of our other millions of art projects that we are in the process of.  Soon we will have so many going on that we will truly never be able to leave the island again to see any more art gallery shows. We will have to start our own gallery- and then I we won’t have to leave to go on an expensive trip to Vancouver to go see an art show.

The circle of life, I suppose. My significant other spent the whole ferry trip home watching You tube videos on screen printing after watching a video on how many of these large panel installations were created. I myself am starting a ceramics course next week and hope that my sculptures will turn out just like Mr. Murakami’s. See below.

 

After thoroughly enjoying the exhibit, we hunted out all the other art packed corners of the art gallery. We found a very interesting German print exhibit.

Heck, we even visited good ol Emily Carr…Is it only us that says, Emily Carr? No way, no more Emily Carr and then we go anyways and still enjoy it.  She’s like an old friend  with her dark green forests and strange Van Gogh like landscapes. How do you pronounce Van Gogh anyways?

Watching Portrait Artist of the Year I notice the English hosts say Van Gogh  rhymes with cough.

See how many new things you learn from my blog?!

Besides getting inspiration from visual art, I often find that if I read only a few pages of amazing writing this also creates a chain reaction of creativity.

So go on. Get out there all you makers. Get makin’