Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recent project


I have been experiencing a lot of guilt for neglecting this blog for so long. I assure you there has been a good reason. A wriggly, sweet-smelling, pink and beautiful reason: Sadie. 

Angel, peanut, bubba, miracle. All of those things.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yes, autumnal is a word

"Belonging to or suggestive of autumn; produced or gathered in autumn: autumnal colours."

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tomorrow's promise

What can I give you, Baby?
Tomorrow's charms…
Comfort and safety and shelter...
A father’s arms.

I'll give you grass underfoot, dear Baby,
paper and string...
Beginnings and What-ifs and Somedays,
grown from the simplest things.

You'll have earth-scented rain in April,
puddles and muck…
A search for a rare kind of clover,
timing and luck...
Watch as the leaves rust and redden,
summer to fall...
Seasons to measure your time by,
delight in them all...

I’ll give you laughter and kindred spirits,
four-legged ones too…
And hobbies and pastimes and passions,
a thing to create…
something to do.

Whoever you grow to be, Baby,
If you build, write, heal or teach,
Whatever your dreams,
may they find you
within your reach.

I want you to know the affect of all things
long after they’re gone…
After the shifting and swaying has settled
Hope flickers on...

Mostly I’ll give you this promise,
binding and long…
I promise you’ll always know you are loved…
like a note loves a song.
There are people who love you already,
steadfast and true...
A family whose circle is waiting,
completed by you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The moon, the moon, they danced by the light of the moon

Visions in Poetry:
a series of books I'm very fond of as of late, from Kids Can Press.

Each book features a different illustrator and the artists capture the mood of the poetry perfectly (as does the typography).
Here's a spread from The Owl and the Pussycat:

and another from My Letter to the World and Other Poems:
"Because I could not stop for Death--
He kindly stopped for me--
The carriage held but just Ourselves--
And Immortality."

It would appear I have a bit of a poetry obsession lately. And also an obsession with organizing and cleaning. Scott thinks I should have the bottle of multi-purpose cleaner hanging from a lanyard around my neck. I spray. I wipe. I spray. I wipe.
Over the long weekend, I began the process of setting up the baby's room. For me, one of the most important considerations is the art on the walls. Some of it will be of my own creation, but there is a slew of stuff on Etsy that I just might have to have, like these autumnal forest illustrations from Kristiana Parn's shop....
It's also time to re-focus on my own art projects after a summer-long hiatus. With September finally here, I have no excuse to put off crafting any further. Afterall, the clock is ticking (or, more accurately, kicking) toward October and soon there won't be a moment to spare.

Friday, August 29, 2008


My friend Sarah and I used to take turns writing four-line stanzas of little poems for kids, just for fun. We'd often pass them back and forth via email when I was living in Halifax and she was in Victoria. This one is from the archives, and is unfinished (we didn't get very far) so add a verse, if you please.....

Under a rosebush,
on top of a slug
sat little Jemima
a lone ladybug.

The slug was quite slimy
but Jemima don't mind--
the slime held them together,
a gluish-like bind.

Through rains of November,
while winter winds blew,
under hot July sun,
nothing unstuck the glue.

And when Slug was down-hearted,
feeling sad, feeling blue
Jemima summoned her wits,
she knew just what to do....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Degrees of separation

Last week I had coffee with Michelle, a writer I just met, who happens to be someone with whom I have been otherwise unknowingly associated with for the past few years. Though she has not yet been published with the company I work for, we distribute her other published books to customers in the US. Further to that, her husband is an architect at a firm that Scott nearly took a position with last year, and also a friend of the principal designer at Meade Design Group which, incidently, I am doing contract work for right now. Even stranger, they lived in Boston during the same time period Scott lived there, and in Halifax during the same years I was attending Dalhousie University. They lived two blocks from my apartment. One of my instructors was their landlord. I finally met her at Ivan's studio opening party a few weeks ago and introduced myself.

Anyway, all these coincidences are not really the point of this post. It's the story of this writer's and this architect's meeting that had me dumbstruck.
When she was fourteen and living in Vancouver, she placed a classified ad in the international section of a newspaper. She wrote that she was looking for a pen-pal, someone to swap letters with about books, geography and any other matter of international conversation.
Somewhere in Argentina, a 17-year-old boy was scouring the classified ads for a second-hand drafting table. He happened to notice the pen-pal seeker's ad and decided to respond.
They never met in person until nine years of letter writing had elapsed. Nine years!
Then at 26, he had business in Chicago (and if you're going to Chicago, you might as well swing by Vancouver) and their first meeting was arranged. Since then, there have been brief periods of separation; once while Michelle was cycling across Canada and he was out of touch in the jungles of Bolivia and they had to phone her father to receive updates on each other's adventures (who may as well have been carrying out a stint on the Space Station, judging by all the astonishing footnotes in this tale).
And well, you know how it all eventually ends; a proposal, a wedding, a marriage.

Theirs is a story of soulmates if there ever was one. Which makes me think of my rope ladder, but I'll save that post for another day....

Friday, August 15, 2008

(having little to do with each other....)

Shotbolt, July 2008


I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small.

-Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Half a world away

Roxy, '02

I took this photo almost six years ago on the Greek island of Ios. It's not your typical travel shot, but I love it. It perfectly captures the mood of our existence in that moment. I remember we were enjoying a bit of respite from the clumsiness of navigating our way through crowds on train platforms, from faulty phone cards, from blistered feet. All five of us with nothing better to do than read, rest, write, think. It was quiet.

Danielle was in and out of a nap, Steph was stretching. I was casually wondering how I was going to get the bag of laundry back that I'd forgotten on Naxos. There was mention of when and where we'd replenish our bottled water supply. Oh and there was a cat, poor thing (was it three-legged?... or one-eyed?...), who followed us back to our dwelling on a previous outing and waited outside our door for whatever edible offerings we tossed its way.

And there was Joey, a stray dog who was adored by travellers (and therefore travellers were wholeheartedly adored back) and really should have come home with us to Canada. When we left Ios he tried to get on the ferry with us and, heartsick, we watched him nervously pacing the dock while the boat pulled away. I still have his photo pinned to the cork board next to my desk at work. I hope that he has a family now and that his stomach is full.

Another reason I love this photo is that I remember what is beyond the limits of its frame. Everytime I look at it, I also see the rest of the room and the vistas beyond it. If the shot was just a little wider, you'd see that to Roxanne's right is a door opened onto a balcony overlooking a ragged, other-worldly landscape cluttered with white-washed domes, seen in miniature from our vantage point high above the waters of the Aegean Sea. There's a little palm tree silhouetted by a hazy October sunset, and a gradation of land masses fading, fading, fading into the distance.

Some things are clearer when left to memory, floating on the fringe.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One day soon

Dallas Eve, a little imp

So I never intended for this blog to become any kind of pregnancy journal, but today I'm feeling compelled to write about some thoughts I've been having related to this whole birth thing. Just a warning: what follows is a personal matter (that I am not opposed to sharing) and significantly strays from the style of my typical blog posts.

Before I became pregnant, and even throughout these first six months, I was certain that I would ask for an epidural if the pain became too much to bear, and would have no qualms in doing so. Even though I think I have a high threshold for pain, I kept reminding myself that labour pain is in a completely different league and that I, as a first timer, might be totally unprepared for it.

But then I began asking myself: Why do I have to feel unprepared for it? Just because it will be a sensation (likely an excruciating one) I've never felt before doesn't mean I have to be completely blind-sided by it. I would like to think that there are effective ways I could psychologically and physically cope with the intensity of labour without surrendering to chemical interventions. And my rational for hoping to avoid drugs isn't necessarily because I'm worried about side effects or consequentials, but more because of a growing determination I have to do it on my own (or more accurately, with a team of drug-free people by my side). Why shouldn't I be able to own the pain? Why not have to suffer a bit to bring my son or daughter into this world? So my thoughts have shifted and I am now approaching this as a true test of strength, as a challenge of focus, of teamwork, of self-control. I want to feel it. As absurd as this may sound, I actually want to enjoy the pain. Afterall, the reward will be more than worth the effort.

In the past when I'd hear of expectant mothers who were adamantly opposed to taking drugs I'd wonder why they would choose to suffer. I'm sure everyone has different reasons for hoping for a natural birth, and for me it's not that I'm trying to be some kind of a hero, but recently I've had an instinctive desire to do as nature intended and I feel very secure in it. My yoga instructor is big on existing in and appreciating the present moment (shocking, no?) and she talks about changing our perception of things that we are conditioned to view as a chore or something we would rather get over with quickly. A difficult yoga pose, for example. Our muscles are straining to hold it, we're struggling to balance, we feel pressure. And we're waiting for the yogi to relieve us of the task of holding it and move on to the next thing. Counting, breathing, waiting, waiting. But why can't we just embrace the difficulty of the position? More like counting, breathing, listening. We are fortunate just to have bodies that are functional enough to allow us to operate them in such a biomechanical way. We have sensation, we are living. Why not confront the difficulty? Why not enjoy it? And truly, at least with yoga, as soon as I switch over to that mentality, the experience is completely different and becomes spiritual.

Now, I am NOT comparing downward dog to labour! I may have already exposed my naivety regarding some aspects surrounding childbirth, but I by no means attempt to convince myself that labour will be a little uncomfortable at worst. I completely acknowledge the possibility of it becoming so intolerable that I start to panic, shake, vomit, scream. And that, dear friends, will be the weakest link, if it comes to it. It will be in that moment when I will beg for pain medicaton. I have experienced significant physical pain before and it's when panic sets in that I lose both my control and my focus. But it's no secret that breathing helps. When I have a migraine, or when I'm at the height of anxiety during take-off on an airplane, I rely on my breathe and turn my focus inward.

But essentially, it's that breaking point that I know I will need help with if my wish is to not surrender to it. I have total faith that Scott will be supportive and wonderful, but I know it can be a challenging and exhausting experience for partners too. So after some thinking and discussing, we have decided to interview a doula, or labour coach. Using a doula statistically (and I like statistics) lowers the instances of Caesarean births, requests for chemical interventions, the likelihood of a long labour, and improves the active participation of the partner. Not to mention, I think I'll really need another woman there, someone who is very familiar with childbirth and can give me a play-by-play of what's going on. I want to know the mechanics of what's happening in my body. The more I can visualize, the more in control I know I will feel, even if unforeseeable events occur that are totally beyond my control.

And additionally, the more I educate myself and the more support I have, the less I fear and the stronger my confidence.

This has been more of a stream-of-consciousness journal entry than anything, a way for me to articulate in writing the crux of my I don't expect many of you to have made it to the end of this post, but if you have, thank you for sticking with me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

One year ago today

Love you Scotty, so much.
(photos by the extraordinary talents of Helene Cyr.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A rose, a ring, a deer

1) A lovely orange garden rose from Laurel. It smells like how summer should be and makes brushing my teeth in the morning that much more lively.

2) A recent acquisition found by my sister-in-law, Danielle, at Paradise Boutique in Victoria. We were on the hunt for just such a ring.

3) It needs a good pressing, but this is the fabric sample I ordered from Spoonflower. Recognize the deer? I'm satisfied with the results, although I think I'd be better off sticking with simple line-drawn designs, solid colours, and vector graphics. I'm not sure their printing system is sophisticated enough to produce sharp images of rendered drawings. But these little fawns will do for now and will certainly make a sweet throw pillow.

*an update on the quilt:
Quilting has been put on hold due to the fact that we are in the process of moving and everything is packed up, making crafting of all kinds slightly inconvenient. Or rather it's the moving and the packing that's the inconvenient part. That, and I've started a knitting project which is much easier to work on than a quilt while teetering atop a stack of boxes, watching Scott work his magic with a tape gun.

Monday, July 7, 2008

pink lemonade

The infamous "Never-been-worn" quarterly clothes swap and auction returns.

a Sunday afternoon with some of my favourite girls....

....and a mini Carrie Bradshaw's first birthday xoxo

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Skipping Away

Once again, I find myself packing a suitcase.

This time I'm off to California, for a combination of work and pleasure. I'm attending the ALA mid-summer conference in Anaheim, so I thought Why not? I'll bring Scott with me and we'll go to the Magic Kingdom and pretend we're kids again. 
I still haven't decided whether or not to torture him with a dose of the It's a Small World ride....

When I was thirteen I went to Disneyland with my parents and some family friends. I had never been before. And I had waited my entire life for that trip. We stayed with a houseful of family friends in Los Angeles, and planned the trip to the park for the second or third day after we arrived. I patiently kept my composure. The minutes ticked by each day until it was only one sleep away. I may as well have slept in the car that night so we could just start it up at dawn and hit the road. But a house of fifteen sleepy people does not get going at a respectable pace, especially at an uncivilized hour. Had I a whip, I would have done some cracking. 
At approximately 2pm, just when I thought we were on our way, just when I could imagine hurtling through the darkness on Space Mountain as all of my friends had done before me, just as I could see sunlight gleaming off the embossed letters on the plaque that reads "The Happiest Place on Earth", and just as I could smell the Disney churros on the rotisserie.....
Everyone. Took. A nap.

Well, everyone but me. How could I possibly conceive of sleeping at such a time?!? On an unforgivingly hot August afternoon in southern California, while Disneyland tempted me with promises of soaks and splashes! Had the house guests/nappers been my own flesh and blood, I would have unleashed a fury so damning, so sinister, they would have taken me there by rickshaw if it were the only mode of transport, even if they had lost their legs in the battle. But, to be appropriately polite, I concealed my quivering reflexes and retired to the backyard pool. And waited. Waited some more. Waited until I was beginning to seriously wonder if everyone in the household had forgotten to tell me that the Hale-Bopp Comet was on its way and they were all catching a ride (in a lapse of sanity brought on by my wretched nerves, I checked the dozers' feet for black high-tops).

Eventually, the nappers began rising one by one from the most inopportune siesta there ever was. We had lost precious hours. Afternoon had become evening. Morning was a distant memory. But off we went. Finally. 

You may think that as soon as my feet struck that magic pavement I would have bee-lined it for Thunder Mountain or the Matterhorn. Yes, one would think that. And bee-line I did - right after, that is - an unplanned detour into THE TIKI ROOM. Otherwise known as a sweltering tropical hut full of deranged singing parrots. The seats are just wooden chairs. And they're not the type of wooden chairs that are attached to a track that turns into a rollercoaster and flips you upside down or anything. They're just chairs. Kindling, even. I am sure, at that moment in time, I could hide my disgust no longer. 

Luckily, I ended up having the time of my life, and my family and friends got to keep all of their limbs. All was not lost.

But the irony of this sordid tale? The Tiki Room is one of the few attractions at Disneyland that welcomes women who have babies in their bellies. I shall find myself there once again, no doubt.

*The sketch at the beginning of this post was inspired by the words of my friend Dean. She wrote: "...when life runs along, skipping away dragging some tattered blanket..." 
For some reason that phrase got stuck in my head (I think it's beautiful) and transformed into this literal interpretation of its meaning. This one's dedicated to you, Deaner!


Friday, June 20, 2008

Make Every Word Tell

Friday, playing with my camera and a favourite book

This is one way to get me to pick up a book on English language usage....illustrate it! The Elements of Style Illustrated (Penguin Press, 2005) is the third edition of the 1959 classic by William Strunk Jr., later revised by E.B. White. Maira Kalman's whimsical watercolour illustrations visually complement a sampling of gramatical examples and often incorporate a subtle wit. One of my favourite pages is an illustration of a mid-century Mies van der Rohe-inspired living space that accompanies the idiom People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

In other news, I am incredibly excited about an invitation I received last night! I am the newest member of Spoonflower. I had to request an invitation from their website and after a short waiting period they sent me an account confirmation which means I am now able to upload my own designs to be printed on a bolt of fabric. I've ordered a sample with my deer illustration (from a few posts back) on it and I'll let you know how it turns out when I receive the finished product in a few weeks. Maybe the next quilt I make will utilize fabric of my own design!

In other other news, I was lying on the couch last night paying attention to all the wiggling going on inside. I lifted up my shirt a bit to expose my bare skin and, poke! I actually saw something moving in there! Someone is using the inside of my belly as a punching bag. Who are you anyway, little one?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quilting has begun

I've started a crib quilt and thought I'd document the various stages here. So far all I've done is cut out the basic blocks 5 1/2 inches square. The next step is the appliqued animals.....I'll post my progress sometime next week....
I just loved neatly stacked fabric, don't you?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

This chain of days

I'm back from Toronto and Book Expo 2008. Before I left I spent two nights in Vancouver with friends and flew out early Saturday morning. Had coffee and a catch-up with Andrea, a fellow mom-to-be, on the corner of Davie and Seymour, then wandered around Yaletown for a few hours and revisited memories of living in Vancouver. The shopping, the dining, the Park, the dogs strolling along the seawall, the quality of morning light in mid-June. There are days when I sorely miss all these things.
And I always forget how stylish Vancouverites are. I've gotten used to the casual Victoria dress code, and it's not until I find myself walking down Granville Street that I realize I look like an urban pilgrim. What has become of me?!

The morning I left Vancouver was a comedy of errors that ended spectacularly well. I woke up at 5 a.m. and bid my hosts a sleepy goodbye. Only problem is, to get out of their building you need a scan key to use the elevator. So it was the fire stair for me and my 50 lb suitcase. Not an easy undertaking when you're pregnant! I hope the baby didn't mind the clumsy racket.
I opted for the express check-in at the airport and couldn't figure out why I didn't have a seat assignment on my boarding pass. Turns out, Air Canada down-graded the aircraft to a smaller one, so 17 passengers were without seats and likely to be bumped to another flight. I overheard one impatient traveller proclaim "I hate my life" in response to the situation. I, on the other hand, (looking for the positive) assumed the original flight must be doomed and that I had fatefully been spared from the impending disaster. Some of you are familiar with my flying anxiety, although lately it's been much better! Fortunately, of course, all flights departed and arrived without incident that day.
After walking a kilometer to gate thirty-eight I was given a credit for a future flight and also handed a boarding pass with seat 5E assigned. Row five, you ask? Business class indeed! And not just any business class. Nothing less than Jetsons-inspired aviatic pods with seats that recline into beds! And big screen personal televisions! and breakfast! and real cutlery and white dishes! and hot towelettes! two of 'em! phhhffftt. I am afraid there is a tragic flaw in all of this luxury....I am now simply too good for Economy class.

I arrived in Toronto that afternoon and Dayle, Andrew and I went to the CCBC Children's Gala at a restaurant downtown. It was a cocktail and appetizer affair, and an opportunity to put faces to dozens of emails sent along the cyber wires over the past few months; authors, illustrators, publishers, publicists, booksellers. I am learning how dependent the book business is on making connections.
A full day at Book Expo on Sunday, chatting up our frontlist to customers and setting up book signings with many of our authors. This is my favourite part, meeting the authors and illustrators; accomplished storytellers who I am innately curious to learn more about. I want to know about their life's bits and pieces that have ultimately lead them to this spot: sitting behind a stack of printed words, signing their name inside the front cover, sending a story out into the world. And truly, at last and without hesitation, when asked of their profession, they are able to say "I'm a writer." Which, for this reason and that, makes me think of Goethe's words:

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic in it. Begin it now."

We would all be wise to not forget this.

On Sunday night I had a fantastic French meal at one of Toronto's trendiest restaurants, Le Select. Myself, my co-worker, a Montreal-based author, and a bookseller from Victoria made for a lively and unique foursome. I missed my wine (do I ever miss my wine), and decided to avoid the Cock's comb dish on the menu (yikes!).
But it was the best kind of dining experience, long and drawn-out with just the right amount of attention to service. Most importantly, there was laughter, exchanging of personal stories and acknowledgment of those moments when you're enjoying the company so much that you don't want the hours to wane or the wine to dry up or the wicks to extinguish. And you can't help but feel grateful for whatever design caused otherwise independent paths to cross for dinner during a summer thunderstorm in Toronto.

And Monday, home...

West, through the quiet night, above the the congestion, beside the moon. I looked down upon the rivers and lakes of central Canada, the patchwork patterns of prairie fields and later, little flickering mountain towns nestled between the peaks of the Rockies. Over Kelowna and Vancouver, lower....lower, over a lone pair of headlights winding along a road on a Gulf Island which was surrounded by waters so dark and still, I imagined it was moonlit concrete.
Finally, Victoria. Dear, small, quiet Victoria.
I am privileged to have touched down in three wonderful and diverse places in three days, each offering equally wonderful and diverse people with whom to make acquaintance. And at the trip's conclusion, I am grateful to see it all from way above, all in miniature. All as if it is really that small, but also so immeasurable and total at the same time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bare-naked in Toronto and Vancouver

I am fit to be crowned Worst Packer of this great wide land. Last night I was trying to fill a suitcase with necessities for a day in Vancouver and two days in Toronto. No matter the destination, the duration of the trip, the weather or the growing limitations as to what clothes can actually accomodate my bump these days, I stand motionless in front of my closet and stare vacantly at an abyss of clothes, shoes, bags, scarves. Scott has warned me that if I keep it up, he will need to refinish the floor at my feet.

I am a clothes sorter. I am a re-folder. I am an organize-my-closet-by-garment-colour-when-the-mood-strikes-me kind of gal. I banish spring clothes to storage in the fall, and fall clothes to storage in the spring. I like this kind of system. It keeps me calm, if not obsessive compulsive.

But packing is my wardrobial tragic flaw. Shoes especially. I usually take with me more pairs of shoes than days I am away. Add two different climates to the formula (a heat wave in Toronto and the perpetual winter of '08 on the West Coast) and I've really got a calculus problem to solve. Find: the derivative of white shorts raised to the power of two heels, multiplied by a maternity top, all divided by rain. I stand. I stare. Flies fluzz by. Chestnuts roast on an open fire.

And inevitably, the morning of my departure is an exercise in haphazardly adding last minute items to my suitcase (and purging four-legged stowaways). Boots. toothpaste. pjs. Shit! pjs!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

strike three

cannot write today. have abandoned two posts based on each one's ability to bore me into a catatonic state, and therefore also any reader who comes too close. have eaten all the chocolate I promised myself I would store in my desk for future 3:00 fixes. feeling like a sloth. writing like a marmot. like a marmot who rode from Princeton to Port Alberni in the engine of a minivan. ouch.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Saturday night. June in Victoria (read: cold and windy). Fisherman's Wharf for dinner; shared outdoor benches, malt vinegar, bobbing houseboats and the sun low in the sky. Backlit silhouettes lined up to order and seagulls scavenging scraps from discarded baskets.

Earlier that day: a painting gone wrong. unexpected visitors. goose-bumpy legs. and a nectarine overdose.