January 30th, 2007

quotes that relate,
“Art should make you interested in life, not in art. Art is a by-product of living.” ~Michael Winter from the novel “the Big Why”
“Art, then, is an increase of life, a sort of competition of surprises that stimulates our consciousness and keeps it from becoming somnolent.” ~Gaston Bachelard

January 26th, 2007

web meanderings…
an article discussing adfree blog in the Globe and Mail, in which i am interviewed briefly.
projects by shay alkalay, (link from camilla)
february is “create-a-thing-a-day” month. rules as follows: Participants create one new work/exercise a day. Choose your own themes, one per week. Work in any medium. And post your work on the group blog every day.
created by artist mouna andraous. my favourites of hers are pillow music and the 4 parts clock, “A clock that speeds up when you do, wakes you up only when it’s sunny and mirrors how much is going on around you.”
some brilliant students at mcgill university have started guerilla composting.
borderlines, a kind of perforated fabric you can cut into pieces to make tablecloths, napkins, or anything you wish. by designer diane steverlynk.
ordered myself a garden gourmet for the new house. how i love composting.
one of my books is going to print today, hooray! I am so happy with how it looks. the publisher/designer did a great job with the layout.
**fun trick: try scrolling this post up and down and see how it plays tricks on your eyes. i noticed this after posting it. play with different speeds and techniques.

January 24th, 2007

i will wander around this post like i wander about the world.
meander. i like that word, have i mentioned that already?
several squirrels sit surrepticiously digging in the backyard. weeks ago they buried things there and have come back to claim them. its funny to watch them eating their goods while sitting back on their haunches like little kings.
mice are fighting for control of my kitchen. i chase them by banging the cupboard doors, which i do now dozens of times each day. i’ve blocked off their holes so they are making new ones, angry with me for disturbing their existence. the deaf dog does not hear them.
the white wolf sleeps soundly without ears. he has become very comfortable in his new home. too much love. he is learning to shake hands this week, so he can attend business meetings in the near future. “pleased to meet you bob, what’s on the agenda today?”
my day includes tea, walks in the woods, aloo gobi, black pens, deadlines, typing, sweet licorice, stomach cramps, packages in the mail that are not for me, and interviews with newspapers about advertising.
not enough time spent on fun things. not enough doodling. not enough time spent savouring the details, drawing lines in the snow or smelling books.
maybe tomorrow, she says.

January 22nd, 2007

I have a piece in this excellent show. but i didn’t get a chance to scan it before I sent it, so you will have to wait until they upload the photos to the gallery to see it.
go here for more info.
excellent poster artwork by bjorn lie.
i haven’t used the word excellent twice in a conversation since the eighties.

January 21st, 2007

the snow lies quietly outside in little drifts. temperatures have plummeted here, the cold winds have blown in and we are thrown into the center of a winter that we thought would never come. it now involves down jackets instead of jean jackets which is what i have been wearing for the last few strange months. no more causual draping of the scarf, it requires a certain amount of orchestration and windproofing to ensure that there are no cracks where the cold air can creep in along the neckline. the wind has its own personality now, a trickster character who steals warmth from the unassuming wanderer. he taunts me, and leaves me frustrated, wishing i had purchased better ‘armour’ to fend against him. my husband’s rants about ‘windblocker’ gear echo bitterly in my thoughts as I push forward.
But I do so love the contrast that comes from living in this climate, the separation between outside and in is drastic, the outside being something that must be endured and the inside the reward that comes after. the hot tea is that much sweeter and soothing after a walk in the cold. the discomfort a necessary part of the living.
On the subject of contrast I have also just finished plowing through ‘the sheltering sky’ by Paul Bowles, a shocking, swealtering trip through the sahara desert that I absolutely could not put down. I’m not sure it’s a good read to prepare one for a trip to Morroco as it tends to focus on the worst aspects of traveling there, (illness, theft, danger, death), but i am left mezmerized. more excited than ever to make my way to that part of the world and have experiences that are drastically different than any i’ve had so far in my life.
i think next i’m going on to Hemingway’s ‘death in the afternoon’, which details the bullfights in spain as well as many aspects of the spanish culture as observed by an outsider.
having finished my two big projects i find myself being pulled to the library to play, and explore, and examine. i feel i overflow with excitement there, with regard to new ideas coming in. what is emerging for me right now is the process of research itself being the focal point. documenting my travels through the library. what are the routes that one takes? there are different methods depending on my mood.
method #1 -head off in several directions at once, make connections between them, see if and how they might converge at times. this is how new ideas evolve for me, by connecting two unrelated ideas together and playing in the tension between them (this is in fact how a symbol is created). It may be as simple as opening two books at once. contrast again. yes.
method #2 -start with one idea/book and make all connections from that point. document the journey. literary wandering.
method #3 -implement randomness, set variables beforehand, i.e. fifth shelf in, pick the first green book you see. take notes. repeat in another section. create connections.
the goal is to create new books using these methods, whereby the process becomes the point of the book and the content is secondary. the reader is allowed to partake in your investigaton process. I think this is in part why I am so drawn to journalling. esssentially it is a documenting of process and in my case a kind of map of my investigations over the course of a life.
other questions i am pondering lately:
how to create nothing?
how to capture the sensory experiences of life in a book, in a literal way?
how to make the book itself an experience? (one of my new books already does this, more on this soon.)
how to push the concept of book as much as possible?
how to make a book that is entirely about the reader? (or are they all essentially?)
how to make a book that is itself random?
a book that references the books currently on your shelf for it’s own content.
all of these things excite me to no end.
if you’ll excuse me i have a lot of things to get to.

January 16th, 2007

slow down week is here.
1. walk as slowly as you possibly can for at least 10 minutes.
2. sit in a busy place and do not move for 10 minutes.
3. give yourself permission to not answer the phone all week.
4. take half an hour to peel and eat an orange.
5. have a conversation with a squirrel.
6. watch ice melting.
7. leave secret notes in trees.
8. write in a cafe for several hours.
9. conduct your own japanese tea ceremony.
10. grind ink to draw with, write in your journal using brush and ink.
11. sew something by hand.
12. take photos on your way to work.

January 13th, 2007

a lot of times i feel things, react to things, cry, become angry about things i see out in the world. its overwhelming sometimes to know where to put my energy. so many times its just easier to do nothing. even giving money feels somehow not enough. like an afterthought.
lately i feel like a new fire is burning in me, one that is going to pull me up out of the depths of inaction with regard to these things. i have made a decision to push my energy in some new directions, i smile writing that, because it is still not clear exactly what form those directions will take. but i feel resolved and powerful.
this shift came about because of some personal challenges over the course of the last few years and also with my experience with adfreeblog. i had never taken a stand on anything remotely political before, or even challenging for that matter. i had always done things to ensure that everyone in my life is happy with me, all the time. so i attempted to control how people thought about me, making sure it was flattering, (i said attempted, i know how ridiculous this must sound but its what i did.) Correction, still do it at times, but here’s the thing… I had to put myself in a position where people would not approve of what I was saying or doing in order to let go of what others think of me, but more importantly, in order to OWN my own opinions and beliefs. i needed to learn that ‘it’s not personal’. this is about me coming into the person that i really am, not the one who I have tried to be (based on what others needed), for years. i have to be okay with people not liking what i do at times. because that’s just life. man, it’s a lot of work. allowing people to be upset, reading hate mail, letting people yell and going through the emotions as a result of that. if you are doing anything worth doing with any conviction there are going to be people who come out in opposition.
i know this now.
i’m getting there. i really am. every year that goes by i feel i know less and less about most things, but understand more and more about myself. in many ways i feel like i am being prepared for some bigger work, as though i’m going to be tested on a much bigger scale in the future and these are just the preliminaries. at some point i am going to be stepping out on some bigger limbs and jumping off.
i feel for the first time that i am on the path to doing something bigger than me. i am going to be giving more of myself to the cause.
without apology.
with conviction.
as is.
with love.

January 12th, 2007

poem: “exercise” by W.S. Merwin from Migration: New and Selected Poems
first forget what time it is
for an hour
do it regularly every day
then forget what day of the week it is
do this regularly for a week
then forget what country you are in
and practice doing it in company
for a week
with as few breaks as possible
follow these by forgetting how to add
or to subtract
it makes no difference
you can change them around
after a week
both will help you later
to forget how to count
forget how to count
starting with your own age
starting with how to count backward
starting with even numbers
starting with roman numerals
starting with the old calendar
going on to the old alphabet
going on the alphabet
until everything is continuous again
go on to forgetting elements
starting with water
proceeding to earth
rising in fire
forget fire
*sent to me as a gift from a dear reader, someone who often sends me gifts in the form of poems ;)

January 10th, 2007

I just added a long overdue FAQ to the adfree blog site. I feel good about what i wrote.
(added note: it may interest some of you to know that the adfree blog concept has been embraced in the US in moderate numbers, and also met with some anger, hostility (in the form of personal attacks), and hate in some cases. Apparently it is taboo in this culture to question advertising, (though I had no idea when i started.) What is beautiful and interesting to me was that the concept was completely embraced, heralded and adopted by the web culture of Spain! i got wonderful letters, cheers, and requests to make the logo in spanish in the hundreds. It did demonstrate to me the difference in attitude of the two countries. Viva espanol!)
some sites i think are great:
[RE]inspired blog. a response to the recent ‘red’ product marketing campaign, raising money for the global fund to fight aids. [RE]inspired aims to “encourage conscious consumption, and provide a means of involvement for those unwilling or unable to buy Product (Red) products.”
what you make it. what life is.
free soil, a “collaboration of artists, activists, researchers and gardeners who take a participatory role in the transformation of our environment.” comes from the brilliant ami franceschini of futurefarmers fame. I really enjoy their neighborhood beautification acts. scroll down to see the ‘how to’.
top ten book shops in the world. i’ve done half of them. sadly half are out of business now.
maira kalman embroideries
lizzie ridout, from one of my new favourite blog reads, windowsill.

January 6th, 2007

it seems i have touched on a hot topic, which i am enjoying exploring further:
washington post article about a group of families who decided to not buy anything new for a year. (suggested by celeste, link from sarah, thank you both.) jeff and i are thinking about doing this one starting next month. i’ll keep you updated.
an excellent blog on simple/green living and sustainability, the worsted witch. I really enjoyed reading her notes on voluntary simplicity gathered from various sources that discuss the concept not as a way of living in ‘blind denial of the material side of life’ but instead as Richard Gregg (a student of Ghandi’s teaching) puts it, “It means an ordering an guiding of our energy and our desires, a partial restraint in some directions in order to secure abundance of life in other directions. It involves a deliberate organization of life for a purpose.” like that.
past life experiments by friends and family
1. my husband and his friend once ate only grilled cheese sandwiches, chips and a pickle for every meal for one week. just to see if he could do it. he did.
2. another friend (who shall remain nameless for reasons which shall seem obvious) consciously shit his pants while driving, to see what it would be like. it was not good.
3. my friend kris watched the same film everyday for two years (it helped him sleep). the film was Dr. Strangelove by stanley kubrick. he did an art piece based on it, you can see it here.
4. i did eat a large amount of orange things for one week. i read that if you eat a lot of foods with beta carotine your skin will turn orangish. i wanted to see if it was true. it didn’t work.
5. i have two friends who drank their own urine as an experiment. apparently it is good for your health. i do not wish to find out.
6. my husband (who is appearing quite a bit on this list), shaved his head into something called “the ring of fire” on numerous occasions. this consists of a solid ring of hair making a full circle on the head and face (including head hair and beard hair. what’s interesting about it is to make the circle correct, you must shave a bit off of the front of your hairline.) this one is an experiment on letting go of your looks for a time.
7. of course you already heard about the public dancing, and the not shaving for six months. believe me, there’s a lot more where that came from.
8. sleep in public places. have done this on trips across the country, you CAN pitch a tent in most places without much notice. the challenge is mostly a psychological one. public napping is also a good exercise.
some more ideas to add to the list
-day of silence, (submitted by littlepurplecow), i love this one! much easier when you work from home.
-walk backwards day
-independence day (from rama the great), remind yourself that you are entirely free to do whatever you want. Brilliant!
-cook all your food from scratch (from alana). I think i do this already but i like the idea of getting big sacks of basic supplies and using only those.
-have tea with stranger day (invite someone out you hardly know.)
-walk everywhere week, (i’ve read about people who didn’t ride in a car for years on purpose).
-walk randomly using dice
-read books based on themes. for example:
*travel the world by reading a novel about each country (someone i worked with at Nicholas Hoare did this.)
*read authors alphabetically (alternate: read only authors with last names that begin with “S”)
*read only red books for one year
*choose one book and read only other books that are connected with it somehow (through citations, or research done on the book, about the author, etc).
*read indexes only
*read page 153 in every book you pick up
-choose a place to travel to by randomly throwing a dart at a world map.

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