Monday, December 01, 2014

Conscious Christmas.



As I've mentioned in the past, Christmas shopping makes me a bit nuts, so I shop early and I shop quickly. The downside of this, however, is that I struggle for over a month to keep the gifts a secret

Lately, I've read several articles about strategies for celebrating Christmas in a more conscious way - everything from eco-friendly decorations to less wasteful gift-giving. Personally, I find it difficult to follow all of the the conscious living rules all of the time. However, here are a few articles that got me thinking - maybe something will ring true for you:

I am very guilty of buying and hoarding wrapping paper, but I will try to keep these wrapping paper alternatives in mind. Baby steps: this year I'm using paper that is all recyclable...

I love the idea of giving and receiving useful and usable gifts - fits into my (often unsuccessful) attempts to live with less.

I get it: this is obviously adorable. But be careful when adopting pets for Christmas gifts. If the receiver is not fully prepared to commit to caring for an animal, the poor little critter could end right back up at the shelter shortly after the holiday season.

While we're on the topic of animals, here's some food for thought around alternatives to animal gifting programs (take with a grain of salt, considering that the writer is promoting her own organization in this piece. But still worth a gander!)

I know a lot of individuals and businesses support food banks over the holiday season. Instead of unearthing your ancient can of garbanzo beans (are those just chickpeas or what?), think about contributing these items that foodbanks would like, but don't ask for.

These Christmas tree alternatives for small spaces have the added benefit of saving a live tree. Although, this is another area where I fail - I love a real tree. If you're feeling really ambitious, just go ahead and construct your tree out of recycled bottles...

To continue the Christmas tree theme, re-use decorations or make homemade ones. My mum still puts up the mushed and mangled Plasticine nativity scene that I made as a kid - that's dedication.

15 shopping days left!

P.S. A piece I wrote years ago about spreading the love at Christmas.

(Image via)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Strategies for Reading a Poem.


In the summer, I read a poem called "The Lost Art of Letter Writing" by Eavan Boland in The New Yorker (August 25, 2014):

The ratio of daylight to handwriting
Was the same as lacemaking to eyesight.
The paper was so thin it skinned air.

The hand was fire and the page tinder.
Everything burned away except the one
Place they singled out between fingers

Held over a letter pad they set aside
For the long evenings of their leave-takings,
Always asking after what they kept losing,

Always performing—even when a shadow
Fell across the page and they knew the answer
Was not forthcoming—the same action:

First the leaning down, the pen becoming
A staff to walk fields with as they vanished
Underfoot into memory. Then the letting up,

The lighter stroke, which brought back
Cranesbill and thistle, a bicycle wheel
Rusting: an iron circle hurting the grass

Again and the hedges veiled in hawthorn
Again just in time for the May Novenas
Recited in sweet air on a road leading

To another road, then another one, widening
To a motorway with four lanes, ending in
A new town on the edge of a city

They will never see. And if we say
An art is lost when it no longer knows
How to teach a sorrow to speak, come, see

The way we lost it: stacking letters in the attic,
Going downstairs so as not to listen to
The fields stirring at night as they became

Memory and in the morning as they became
Ink; what we did so as not to hear them
Whispering the only question they knew

By heart, the only one they learned from all
Those epistles of air and unreachable distance,
How to ask: is it still there?

So good, right? I read it out loud (you know where) about 3 times, loving the way the words felt. However, I realized that I really don't know enough about reading poetry to truly appreciate it. Rather than having a deep understanding of the metaphor, I was enjoying the aesthetics of the words themselves. The poem has stayed in my mind, and I have thought of it often in the last couple of months.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this handy resource: Reading a Poem: 20 Strategies. I always do #2, hope to experience #3, laughed out loud at #6, said "no" to #13 (no!), wondered if I fit the bill for #18, and got a bit startled by #20.

Great list!

P.S. Poems about love that I...love.  

(Image via)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Why Not?" People.


Zen Pencils is one of my favourite sites to visit. Every week or two, cartoonist Gavin Aung Than creates inspiring comics out of quotes from literature, poetry, film, famous personalities, etc.

My current favourite piece was pulled from Kevin Smith’s memoir/self-help book Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. In the quote, Smith refers to the power of "Why Not?" people:

“There are plenty of “Why?” people in the world. Whenever you hit them with an idea, they start in with their bullshit.
“Why bother?”
“Why try that?”
“Why do you think you’re better than everyone else?”
“Why?”
To counteract this, simply surround yourself with folks who ask only “Why not?” As in …
“Wanna make a movie?”
“Sure. Why not?”
Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever. I’ve spent the better part of my career getting up after movies and encouraging potential artists in the audience to give it a shot, pointing to myself as proof that anybody can make their dreams come true. I don’t do this altruistically: I’m selfishly insuring that I have cool shit to watch one day by encouraging anybody to follow passions like film or storytelling.”


Check out the full piece here - perfect inspiration for a cloudy, snowy day!

P.S. Another Zen Pencils piece that I featured earlier this year. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Match: Beezus Quimby.


Beezus Quimby is the hard-done-by eldest sister of our fave literary wild child, Ramona. Beezus is clever, studious, and sensitive. She strives to be a kind and wise older sib, although Ramona's pestering sometimes gets the best of her - something we eldests can relate to, right? 

Today's Matched is in honour of big sisters everywhere. 

Have a great day!

(1. "Looking to Tomorrow" dress; 2. "Marni 708" glasses; 3. "Gentle Reminders" pencils; 4. Book necklace; 5. "Buzz About Town" loafer; 6. "Hold Me" print by Nan Lawson; 7. Jones Root Beer

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Clawhammer Letterpress.


I returned from holiday this week, and I am feeling rested and ready to take on the upcoming term! Admittedly, I cheated a couple of times and checked my work email, but was able to stay *mostly* unplugged for my 10-day jaunt through mainland BC and the island.

For those who are interested, I'd like to share one of the highlights (word-related, of course) of my travels: the morning I spent learning about letterpress from Josh at Clawhammer Press in Fernie, BC.

Clawhammer is a beautiful shop that houses a small gallery and a fully-functioning letterpress studio. Clawhammer creates business cards, invitations, posters, coasters, and other ephemera. I picked up a set of coasters and a necklace and would have loved to have purchased several poster prints, but feared they would be squished as my journeys continued. In retrospect, I should have mailed them home to myself...

The studio has 350ish different kinds of typefaces in-house. My favourite were the large wooden sorts, but they had a variety of styles and sizes, all the way down to teeny tiny letters. 

Fun fact: Apparently, the phrase "out of sorts" (as in, not feeling quite well) is thought to have its roots in typography. In Printers + Founders language, "sorts" are the letters used for printing ("a" is a sort, "b" is a sort, etc.) When a typesetter ran out of sorts - and was thus unable to continue working - they would become understandably irritated (particularly since many printers were paid according to the number of pages produced per day). Hence, out of sorts!





I had no idea how much precision went into preparing the sorts for printing - it really is a game of spacing and numbers. Remember last year when I found out I was basically a kerning genius? Well, turns out, my internet skills didn't translate to real life typography...




Josh was working on a gift for a friend, a print from a poem by Rumi:

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and
kiss the ground.

He generously let me try running a few proofs through, which was very fun. Although, you can tell by the smudges in the photo below that I have a tendency to manhandle the paper as it runs through the press. Josh let me keep one of the proofs as a keepsake, and it's currently leaning on a shelf in my living room awaiting a frame.




I was allowed to wander around the studio, as it wasn't too busy that morning. I poked around, finding vignettes of finished pieces, ongoing projects, and life at work. I must have snapped about 200 photos of the space, but am working on narrowing them down to a few favourites.

I wish there were a place like this closer to home.

Do you know of any great studios in our 'hood?





Thanks, Clawhammer, for a great introduction to letterpress! 

Also, big ups to my sister who humoured my word nerdery with grace. She spent a solid couple of hours in the studio, in spite of her desire to get outside and up a mountain (she got the adventurer genes). Thanks, Bops!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Heading to the Lobby.


I'll be unplugged and out of blogging commission for a week or two. I'm attempting to go sans laptop and sans cell phone while I do some adventuring. I'll report back in September!

Here are five things you might want to check out in the meantime...
  1. Pick up a book that will actually change your life.  
  2. Literary first lines + rap lyrics mash-ups. Love this. 
  3. Just do it. Yeaaah, that "it." #sexted
  4. A reading list to make your heart swell with national pride.
  5. An oldie but a goodie - creative inspiration in less than 20 minutes.
Happy August ❤

(Image via)

Monday, August 18, 2014