Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

Happy Father's Day! And what a glorious early morning we're enjoying in Edmonton today: perfect for celebrating dads of all sorts.

In honour of the day, here's a selection of pictures of the father-and-son team I know best: Bruce and Zak.

1. My favourite father–son photo ever! Christmas 1991; Zak at four months.

2.  Photobooth follies! January 1993. We have a few strips from photobooths, and I treasure them all.

3. B's Summertime blues: Brooks, July 1995, with Brian and Michele, for Mitch and June's wedding.

4. Zak's Calvinism. Zak in Brooks, summer 1999, doing a remarkable imitation of Calvin from "Calvin and Hobbes."

5. All growed up: Granville Island, Vancouver, August 2007, at the conclusion of our first sailing voyage.

Lovely memories! Here's to fathers today and every day. Cheers!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Another throw

Good morning! It's Thursday, so it's throwback time. Here's a selection of really old family photographs.

1. My paternal great-grandfather: Apparently, it was once common to encounter photographers on the streets of downtown Edmonton. They would take your picture and sell it to you. I have a similar picture of my paternal great-grandmother. No wonder people dressed up to go downtown!

2. My maternal great-grandmother: She's on the left; my maternal grandmother is on the right. This picture was taken at a wedding in summer 1974. I remember attending the wedding but have just the faintest memories of my great-grandmother. She died a year or so after this photo was taken.

 3. Christmas dinner, December 1973: As I've written before, I can walk through my aunt and uncle's house in my memory even now; this is their dining room. The brightest figure in the image, just to the right of centre, is my cousin Wendy. That seems fitting. My parents are also in this picture, as are my maternal grandparents. The white hair in the foreground belongs to my paternal grandmother. Strangely, I remember this Christmas well, mostly because of my brother, who was an infant at the time; I was teasing him, and he accidentally scratched my face, giving me a scar that I still have.

4. "Bare skin": My mother helpfully captioned this picture. The rug is a lamb skin, apparently; I remember it well. This picture was taken in my parents' bedroom in June 1970. The only one of its kind!

5. Birthday girl: December 1972, my third birthday. Sitting beside me is my uncle Larry. I remember so many of the details in this photo but have long since forgotten the event itself. One of the most distressing and surprising things I've learned about going through old colour photos is how much they blur with age. Will they be completely unreadable in another few decades?                           

6. Princess Meddler: Apologies for the quality of this image, but I've included it specifically because of the quality. Earl has recently been posting images on his blog of events he can and cannot remember. I've added this photo because I remember it; it's one of my earliest remaining memories, from September 1972. First my mother took a picture of me outside, on our front steps; then she took this one, inside our front door. I was eager to see the picture, so I opened the Polaroid too early, creating the blotches you see on this image. I've always been surprised that my mother kept the picture, yet I think that I remember the event of the photo because she did. Memory is fascinating!

Well, thanks for strolling through the Seventies with me once again. Hope you enjoyed your visit!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Desert Island Discs

Do you remember the phenomenon of desert island discs? Famous people would compile lists of the (eight) records they would wish for, should they ever be trapped on a desert island.

Of course today, with the ubiquity of MP3 players and mobile phones, no one need ever be trapped with only eight records.

Still, the idea has intrigued me for decades, since I first learned of the concept. Perhaps now, with a fairly developed music collection, I am prepared to contemplate my own desert island discs.

1. Kate Bush, The Dreaming: "This album was made to be played loud," the liner notes say, and I have played it really, really loud over and over again for more than thirty years. I have performed choreographed dance routines to several of the tracks and know every word of every song. If my life were reduced to one record — if I could take only one disc to the desert island — this would be it. If you have never heard it — and how do you know me and why are you reading this post if you haven't? — it is by turns powerful, frightening, soaring, and haunting. Unquestionably the musical statement that has influenced me most.

2. Kate Bush, Hounds of Love: So much of my youth is wrapped up in this record; I have listened to it literally hundreds of times — perhaps more than a thousand times — on vinyl, cassette, CD, or MP3. The long-time-coming follow-up to The Dreaming, this record leads off with one of my very favourite KB tracks, runs through a string of singles, and then presents "The Ninth Wave," a mini-concept album that still delights me after nearly three decades. A masterpiece.

3. Tori Amos, Boys for Pele: I suppose a fan should pick Little Earthquakes, and certainly that remains a favourite, as does From the Choirgirl Hotel. But Boys is just a little more special. Tori is tied to a particular era of my life; her first several albums are musically brilliant and (for me) saturated with nuance and memory. After Scarlet's Walk, I lost the thread; but until then, I might have taken all of her discs to the island with me.

4. Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water: So difficult to choose! Part of me still thinks I'd rather have Bookends. But I simply cannot imagine never hearing "The Boxer" (in my opinion one of the most perfect songs ever recorded) again. (Maybe I'm taking this desert-island thing a little too seriously?) And by the way, there's no copping out and taking the "greatest hits" disc — though if that were an option... No, Bridge reflects the folky, lyrical, poetical me. Couldn't be without it.

5. The Pretenders, Learning to Crawl: Strangely, this is for my inner fifteen-year-old girl. Rock 'n' roll poetry. A little bit punk. Quite a lot angry. For me, this is a record about reaching for more. And if you're looking for women role models in music, Chrissie Hynde should be top of the list.

6. Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark: Could not be without this. I'd also want The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Ladies of the Canyon and Dog Eat Dog, of course, but since I'm pushed to choose only one ... shades of Sophie Zawistowska ... it has to be Court and Spark. I know, I know; the purists would choose Blue. But I imprinted on a different Joni, and C&S speaks to me like no other record. Going to listen to this one now ...

7. Film soundtrack, Jesus Christ Superstar: Can I get away with this? It's technically two discs, but in one package. Another record tied to my youth, but so formative. Comfort listening at its finest.

8. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: You know, I think Magical Mystery Tour is probably the better choice for me, but it's not really an album. Rubber Soul and Let It Be are jostling for my attention but ... no, SPLHCB it is.

Omg this was a difficult exercise. Every choice closed off half a dozen other choices — no other soundtracks? No other eighties discs? Nothing from Cat Stevens or U2 or Peter Gabriel or Heather Nova  or Sarah Slean or ...? And no ABBA? B can't believe there's no ABBA. I console myself with the thoughts that 1) I have a good memory for music and can play other records in my mind's ear and 2) I will not be on this imaginary desert island for very long.

So, that's my provisional list, subject to change tomorrow. What discs would you need? Inquiring minds and all that ...

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Photographic "art"

At the torture-filled local school I went to for grades seven, eight, and nine, the Industrial Arts and Home Economics programs were organized so that every grade seven student took two units of IA and two units of Home Ec. In this way, I earned credits for cooking things I could cook with my eyes closed and for sewing a stuffed animal. In this way, I also reinforced that my career would not involve engines, tools, or anything vaguely mechanical or manual.

This is my final submission for the darkroom rotation in IA 1. We also made carvings on blocks of linoleum, printed posters using a very simple letterpress, turned a tin can into a Barbie chair, and turned a wine bottle into a giant long-stemmed glass. These objects have long since met the landfill, but the photographic evidence of my darkroom incompetence remains.

To be fair to myself, I should observe that it's not the darkroom processes that went wrong. (The green streak is an artifact of scanning.) The assignment was to assemble a simple image using our choices from a box filled with interesting bits of metal. My wobbly owl is a fine concept; the hurried execution remains an artistic issue, however.

I enjoyed the darkroom work. I also remember that while I was doing this task, some of the boys I was friendly with were obsessed with Bob and Doug McKenzie and the Great White North. So perhaps some of the owl's wobbliness is the inanimate object's effort to escape from excessive exhortations to "Take off, eh."

Grade seven in a nutshell. Not sure about the infinite space, but bad dreams? Check.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Work and Play

B will tell you that I do not understand the concept of a vacation. Or at least I do not seem to know how to relax. In my defence, I'd say that I've been living my life on double-speed for so long that I can rarely disentangle work from play. Let's examine the photographic record.

1. This is Zak at eight months old on the lawn of Dale's house in Calgary, May 1992. I'm all dressed up because a few hours earlier I had given a forestry presentation at a school in Red Deer. The next day, we flew to Victoria for a holiday. Zak made a great smiling baby!

2. This is Zak four years later (spring 1996). We're in a queue for the ferry, so we're en route back to Vancouver. Notice the contrast in clothing: clearly a vacation.

3. This is me on my way to a Hallowe'en party, standing on the stairs of my former workplace, the WBM house. Earl took this photo. OK, definitely a intertwingling of work and play...

4. Zak, MeMere, and me. Brooks, July 2006: a weekend party for PePere's birthday. Definitely en vacances.

Well, I'm not sure I've made a strong case that I know how to relax, but I enjoyed flipping through these photographs. In fact, when I unearthed the photo basket, I realized we have hundreds of photos that exist only as prints, not in digital copies, so I could spend the next few weeks scanning and saving them ... Or maybe that would only prove B's point ...

Thursday, June 04, 2015

In step with the meme

Happy Thursday! Your correspondent is busily writing and editing and having long lunches with friends, and therefore missed posting yesterday. Oops.

To make up for my bad ways, I offer you a Throwback Thursday photo bonanza!

1. My dad as an infant. Props to my grandmother for this.

2. My family, summer 1982, at the Strathcona Science Park in east Edmonton. Courtesy of my Kodak 110.

3. C'est moi, spring 1983, in an alley in Belvedere.

4. Dad and me, Sherwood Park, August 1986.

OK, that was a long throw back! Now my arm is tired. Ta!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Tuesday, which is not Monday

Wow, this week is flying by. And wow, I drank a lot of milk today.

In keeping with my random theme, here are three photos. Random!

1. In Paris. July 2008. This shop is now closed. Wah.

 2. My avatar! Actually a mosaic in the NYC subway. February 2013.

3. At a Hallowe'en fundraiser. Waiting to hear Le Fuzz. October 2013

Randomnosity is fun. I think I'll do more of this. Cheers!

Monday, June 01, 2015


This afternoon I contributed in a tiny way to C's upcoming magazine issue by helping to roast dough twists over an open flame. That probably doesn't sound very appetizing, but when the roasted dough is rolled in butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, it should be tasty (at least for people who like butter and sugar).

Working in the kitchen with C today reminded me of the great Marxist cookie event of May 2012, in which Carmen and I undertook to make a dozen or so Groucho Marx-style cookies. Whee! Here's a picture of the best pan.

So cute! I still like these guys.

Anyway. I'm hopeful good food styling and good camera work will disguise the fact that my dough twist looked like it was roasted by the family under-achiever. And kudos to C for coming up with a fun project for a Monday afternoon.