March 27th, 2006
where we find ourselves

-good wine from an amazing wine store
-Jeff plays a house show, a night of friends and good music
-a hike in the magical Albany Bulb. A place where for many years artists have been creating public art out of object that have washed up onto the shore. we watched an artist working on a sculpture of a 20 ft sea goddess made of rusted wire and found wood. some great photos here. The wild fennel growing there creates a wonderful “scented” walk.
-an inspiring new cookbook by Blake Spalding (who my husband serendipitously met and stayed with when he rode his bike accross the u.s. last year.) Blake opened an organic restaurant (with a buddhist bent) in the middle of a remote community in Utah, called the Hell’s Backbone Grill. She is doing wonderful things for this world by sharing her lifestyle and food philosophies. A symbol of what passion and determination can create.
-another new cookbook from the Candle Cafe, which is a must when you visit New York. So far I’ve made the marinated tofu, sweet potato mash, wild rice and cranberry salad. All are excellent.
-my husband and i are what you might call ‘urban campers’. we recently acquired a car that is perfect to sleep in (like a mini camper actually), dubbed ‘the grey elephant’ in honor of Emily Carr’s grey elephant which she wrote and painted in for many years. we have been taking mini vacations with wonderful freedom to sleep where ever we find ourselves. and even created a ‘car journal’ to document the trips. there is also a small library in the back (I always like to have a selection of reading material for when you take a spontaneous journey). including, of course, a few books by emily, poems by gary snyder (since we are in california), william carlos williams, plus a few others. the goal this week is to sew some privacy curtains for the back window and a sack for our “collections” of beach finds and found objects.
-a random opening of Emily’s recently published ‘unknown’ journals “opposite contraries” finds these words…
“Movement is the essence of being. When a thing stands still and says, “Finished”, then it dies. There isn’t such a thing as completion in this world, for that would mean Stop! Painting is a striving to express life. If there is no movement in the painting, then it is dead paint.”

Mar 27 2006
1:55 pm
patricia writes:

oh wow, reminds me of what we used to call bum beach on the shores of burlington/lake champlain — back in the 80′s — i have so many pix of my boy when he was a babe hangin’ out with us there — it was glorious, remote, peaceful, just us and the homeless usually….then it became “yuppified” with the bike path, boathouse, etc. and while those may be “good things” something special and remote was lost as it is generally crowded now…no longer a small piece of wasteland paradise to retreat to when you need to balance city life with a bit of solitude…

Mar 27 2006
2:57 pm
shari writes:

what a delicious post keri!

Mar 27 2006
3:33 pm
vegasandvenice writes:

What a fabulous weekend and I love the corresponding sketches!!

Mar 27 2006
3:36 pm
Ali writes:

The car journal idea is awesome.

Mar 27 2006
3:42 pm
sarai writes:

what a beautiful inspiring weekend.

Mar 27 2006
4:07 pm
Caroline writes:

Hi Keri,
Ah Emily — what an inspiring woman. I live in Emily’s hometown, Victoria, and have the privilege of frequenting her old ‘stomping grounds’: her beautiful childhood home which is open to the public, the house that she owned and ran as a boarding house (the attic walls have original paintings on them!), the James Bay Pub/Inn where her ghost has been sighted! I am also familiar with the some of the spots where she stayed in the “Elephant.”
My dad however has one up on me regarding Emily Carr as he grew up in Vic and actually met her. Emily’s sister Alice ran a home for children; my dad and brother stayed there while my grandma was having a baby. I guess that Emily and her pets would visit the home. The kids were quite impressed with “Roo” the monkey — my dad with his wacky sense of humour came up with the line, “I think it was the monkey who did all the paintings!” Well…. you had to know my dad.
Joy Coghill wrote an absolutely magical play about Emily Carr called, “Song of This Place” (there is some good stuff on the web about it). I saw it in Vancouver years ago — I was so deeply touched that I had to meet Joy and express my sentiments. I told her about my dad meeting Emily and of course his theory about the monkey — she loved it and said that she would consider adding the line to the play!
Emily’s spirit/presence is very strong here especially in James Bay. One day, after finishing one of her books, I decided to have an “Emily” afternoon. My friend and I went to James Bay and walked around her old neighborhood, peeked in the windows of her childhood house (it was closed for reno’s) and went for tea at one of the old teahouses. Afterwards we decided to just stroll around and look at the beautiful old houses — out of nowhere came a rogue peacock walking down the sidewalk! We laughed so hard… it was just the perfect touch for our “Emily” afternoon.
Thanks for reminding me about Emily as I haven’t thought of her for awhile…..hope you like the stories.

Mar 27 2006
6:27 pm
cindy writes:

i’m from victoria and i’ve never been to emily’s home. next time i will definately do an emily walk around james bay. thank you for all the stories.
i love the idea of urban camping with a library.
you guys know how to live! :)

Mar 27 2006
9:06 pm
Helen writes:

How lovely! and I would love to see a photo of you guys in the grey elephant sometime! :)
Happy wandering.

Mar 28 2006
12:41 am
m writes:

If you and the grey elephant find yourselves on the central coast, please look me up. Lunch at my tiny cafe and a parking spot for the elephant (and you) are on me.

Mar 28 2006
3:10 am
bohemiangirl writes:

ahh…you two sound perfect together.
what a lovely existance you will have during those times urban camping in your car. just lovely.
we have created something similar in our VW Bus. such good memories have been had.

Mar 29 2006
9:10 am
Jennifer writes:

What a wonderful entry. I am going to check out that Emily Carr journal. I actually have a novel about her life on my “to be read” list called The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland. It looks so good.

Mar 29 2006
11:26 am
weaker vessel writes:

Like all of your posts, totally inspiring! Thanks so much, keri, for your example and guidance.

Mar 30 2006
12:56 am
alanna writes:

Thanks for sharing your experience about the Albany Bulb. I lve across the bay and didn’t know it exhisted. Turns out my friend walks her dog there all the time. We’ve got a dog walking date now.

Apr 1 2006
1:41 pm
aszichild writes:

A crazy little moment…last weekend I believe I saw you in the North Berkeley area (near the Cheeseboard). I thought to myself, “That is keri smith! Ahhh!” I got really excited and wanted to run up and tell you that I read your blog every single day and pull so much inspiration from it both artistically and spiritually, but I didn’t. My boyfriend said I should have, but I didn’t. Shoot. If nothing less, I will tell you now: Your blog has helped me to really appreciate the little details in life and is an incredible push to help me pursue my artist passions. So, THANK YOU!

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