Friday, May 30, 2008

Eddy in the Morning

This morning when I went in to say good morning to Eddy he was bright and eager to ask me if he had been having some sort of memory lapse. He was very animated and spoke with purpose. He could not quite find the words to describe what he was feeling and instead he rubbed at his head in a swirling motion, demonstrating the confusion. Trying to piece it together I give no answers, he is feeling grateful for who he is and the opportunities available to him because of his skills and abilities as a dress designer, a pattern maker. He could get a job in the needle trade he said, fixing sewing machines, because he has to have a job anything to provide for his family. He looks out the window and sees the old family farm in Guelph-he is reminded there is a living to be made on the farm as well.

After awhile I remind him that he has some short term memory loss which he seems to accept but does not dwell on. He points out that he knows me and my name and he knows the dog. All in all he says he's in pretty good shape and position, he looks out the window again and says I have a car down there, I can get around. (Note here; the car is mine, Eddy has not driven in 5 yrs).

I am fascinated by his lucid moments.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Life on the Water

We are trying to include Eddy more in our outings. We took him up to Baker several times this winter and even although he never left the comfort of the lodge and his wheelchair he was excited about his experiences. Imagining he had been skiing.

On Monday we went for a drive out to WWU's Lakewood Facility at Lake Whatcom, where for $35 (I would have happily paid $350) we got a family membership. I checked to see if they had handicapped access which they did and immediately my head was filled with visions of sunny afternoons spent at the lake shore with the 4 of us. Eddy could sit happily for hours and watch the comings and goings of people in boats.

Yesterday morning when Mark woke Eddy up he could see he had something on his mind and asked him about it. Eddy said he was considering his future in the Navy. Mark reminded him they probably weren't taking any 80 yr old conscripts. I think the lake will be good for his soul.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Taxidermy; The Agony and the Ecstasy

I finally got a call a few weeks ago from Ralph Akers letting me know that Oscar the Rooster was ready to come home. I was really excited. I have wanted a stuffed chicken ever since one of my students at Western designed a piece that featured her aunts collection of stuffed fowl. I had to have one of my own.

Fast forward to that day a few months back when Oscar jumped me for the last time and in a fit of PMS rage I called Ralph, who is coincidentally my neighbor, to come over and whack the bastard. We joked a lot about it afterwards. Mark claimed renewed respect for me and vowed never to really piss me off.

When I went into Ralph's place I was prepared to be wowed by what I saw but my excitement was replaced by something quite different. The bird I had loathed enough to sacrifice was not the example of taxidermy I had imagined. At least I was not having the reaction to him I had expected. I put on a brave face for Ralph and wrote the check, took Oscar home, put him in my office and left for Mark's for the weekend.

Don't get me wrong here, Ralph had done a great job. I was reacting to the way Oscar looked dead and stuffed. It was a bit creepy. Taxidermied animals who you did not know when they were alive are one thing. Animals you knew are quite another. What troubled me the most was Oscars comb, the red fleshy thing on his head. In life it was full and erect and bobbed a bit when he moved, now it was dry and pointy. I considered molding him one out of Fimo clay and attaching it with a chin strap. This idea got a few laughs but ultimately I felt like a shit for having this bird killed (by suffocation so as not to marr his fine body) and then paying a pretty good price to have him stuffed. I was experiencing terrible remorse for this act of pure bravado. It was a real slap down.

When I got back to my office after the weekend a few new realizations surfaced. Taxidermied animals smell slightly. Each time I opened the door to my office I was met with the reminder that a once living thing was now in a preserved state in my sacred workspace. Pearl, upon returning from my office one evening said the rooster freaked her out. He scared the heck out her while alive and was still doing it dead, great. Even the dog was disturbed by him. She would not lay down and relax because I had Oscar placed on a shelf above the couch where she normally sleeps while I work. I moved him to my work table where he was in my peripheral line of sight which made me want to constantly turn my head to see who was there, it spooked me. As the the week progressed Luna got a little bolder, running in and sniffing him, saying hello perhaps, and then settling on the couch. The cat sniffed around him quite a lot but kept a safe distance. I gave up thinking about the prosthetic comb.

By that Friday I decided I had better take a few pictures of Oscar for the blog. I was waiting for Mark to arrive so I took Oscar out on the porch of my office where the sun was setting and snapped a few pictures. In the process of doing this I had to look at him really closely and suddenly I fell in love with him. His feathers were so beautiful, vibrant and iridescent and his little glass eyes seemed alert and watchful. A stuffed Rooster is not a live Rooster and takes a little getting used to, I had to replace my previous knowledge of live Oscar with the new stuffed Oscar and honestly I like the stuffed Oscar much better now. What a relief.

Purchase the Letterpress Print that immortalizes this proud bird.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Getting In the Groove

It's hard I find, to get in the work groove at times, this is universal I know. We dance around it, we clean our desks, we pull our weeds. Isn't it true that, although we fight the groove, it is ultimately where we are the happiest as creative types?

Ok back to my groove.

Tomorrow I have 15 minutes to describe my career to a class of 4th graders. I have flashcards. I borrowed them from Pearl.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Eddies Supper Club

Originally uploaded by kissinjerk

Here is some of the gang outside Eddies Supper Club, missing are Jack T. the instigator, Karen from Bozeman, and of course Michael Kissinger of Vancouver who snapped the lot of us.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Shout out to my Man

On this day 6 years ago I drove to Vancouver to meet Mark for the very first time in person (we met via the miracle of the internets). Something in the universe shifted and I knew that on that day my life would be forever changed, and it has been. I now know the true meaning of the word partner.

Thanks Mar, you are the best.


America the Beautiful

After a nice greasy breakfast at the O'Haire Hotel Restaurant aptly named Louie and Clark's, we went out to explore Great Falls. Our traveling companions begged off sighting work responsibilities until we told them what we were up to. I had it in my mind to visit one of the 5 hydro electric dams that put Great Falls on the map as the "Electric City" and to put my feet into the mighty Missouri River.

Mark above the dam.

A little warning before I got my toes wet.

Mark suns himself while Stephen documents same

Along the way we found a plethora of excellent old neon signs from Great Falls bright past. These great dinosaurs of bygone days stand as beacons in this harsh landscape. For a typographer like myself it's akin to seeing the virgin mary in a tortilla. I was on a mission, here's some of what we saw...

Great Falls seemed a bit sad and lonely and after saying out loud a few times, "where is everyone", we found them all up on the strip south of town getting homogenized, american style. We headed back downtown, a few blocks north and 50 years back in time. After braving the 90° heat for a few hours we decided to go back to the hotel and work on our mermaid moves in the pool while our new friends looked on, before we knew it it was time to go to Eddies Supper Club for…well, supper.

My recollection of this place from the outside was just a big white cinder block cube in the middle of a barren plain. Once inside we were absorbed into an environment that can only be described as womb-like with wood panel walls and plenty of red vinyl, and we were poised to take our nourishment in the form of red meat cooked campfire style which meant black as the inside of cow on the outside and still beating on the inside. Mark and I had the prime rib, Mark noted that it seemed to be served in a pool of blood. I was horrified at the size of it but ended up pleased at how tender and yes creamy it was, the fat was actually creamy. I was worried Maria might throw up as she is not much of a meat eater. I learned later that one of our waitresses had the telltales signs of meth addict. Sadly meth is a big problem in Montana, it's a hard life out there.

One of our new friends embarks on his journey to steak heaven or hell?

After our fine dinner we headed back to the safety and comfort of the Sip and Dip Lounge to reflect on the day and toss back a few too many signature fishbowl drinks. Many hours passed and soon it was time to leave the lounge. We took a few of our new friends back to our room for a bit recap of the events of the last few days and then before we knew it we were thrust back out onto the wide open plains of Montana.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's even better than I imagined

We arrived in Great Falls around 10pm local time after 14 hours on the road. Mark did a stellar job of getting us here. We made a few good stops along the way, the ac worked, and Mark and Maria kept the tunes flowing. Car trouble was minimal.

The scenery changed as soon as we hit Issaquah on the 90 and in my estimation just got better and better through the wide dry fields of Eastern Wa to the windy climb up through Idaho's silver mining past, all the way to Helena Montana our highest point along the way at 4000ft. The drive down from Helena north to Great Falls was spectacular. The moon followed us along as the sun set across the dry scrub filled hills.

We met up with our host Jack Tielman in the Sip and Dip Lounge as planned and met a whole bunch of new friends who had come from Canada and other points Montana for the event. The best part of the whole evening besides the excellent drink served up in a fishbowl that Mark and I shared was the saucy mermaid doing turns in the pool. She was quite a site to behold.

Today is a new day and we are getting our bearings here in our cozy hotel room. Greasy breakfast is at 10 and dinner tonight is at the Montana Supper Club. This may be nirvana.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

All is forgiven.

The sun came out today and it feels like a new beginning. Spring. Finally, in all it's itchy glory has arrived and I was there to meet it's train, help it with it's bags and ask it what took so long. Now that the waiting is over I can barely remember the wrath of anticipation.

Spent a bit of time in the greenhouse today planting flats of basil, kale, and squash. I saw a coyote running in the freshly cut field, he saw me too. There were eagles everywhere enjoying the updraft along the rivers edge.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great Falls, here we come!

So the much anticipated trip to Montana is just around the corner. We leave friday morning bright and early with our friends, writers Stephen Howie and Maria McLeod. We are driving the Mercedes for this one as the stereo in my car is toast and we would have to take out a small loan to buy gas for the Starfire. It will be a gut wrenching 12 hours to Great Falls. I've got new knitting needles and I am looking forward to non stop chatting with Maria in the back seat.

We were invited to celebrate last call at the Sip and Dip Lounge by my old friend Jack Tielman who, in his wandering days as a collector of rare vinyl stumbled across this shrine of Tiki culture in the high plains. For years he invited me to gatherings there but I was never able to make it. When I got his email this year announcing Last Call, I decided I just had to go. Mark was up for it as he is a Tiki culture enthusiast and I have never seen him turn down a cocktail served in a fishbowl. Maria and Stephen were in shortly there after and the die was cast.

Stay tuned for updates as we go along. Not sure if I can blog as we go, but I can certainly twitter. Pearl was a bit choked that she could not come and even offered to just hang out in our hotel room while we got polluted in the bar. What a considerate soul she is.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't slash those wrists just yet...

It really feels as if we are in some kind of weird pre-apocalyptic state. It has been gray for a very long time and it is affecting my mood profoundly. On a good day I struggle to manage my thoughts and feelings but this weather is proving to be very challenging. My only defense currently is to lay off the depressants and ramp up the exercise, I am also on a strict diet of cute images that seem to momentarily cheer me up. Like the photos my mother in law Bar sent me of a depressed Tigress raising some piglets after her tiger cubs died at birth. The zoo had dressed the pigs in little tiger suits, it was super cute and I felt happy for about 13.5 minutes.

My doctors office has just called partway through this entry to inform me that my vitamin D levels are really low and that they want me to take a mondo supplement twice a week. Of course I was thinking I don't want no stinking supplement but then the cheerful receptionist informed me that a low level of vitamin D can cause depression, heart disease and a litany of other horrible afflictions. I backed up a moment because at first I thought she was saying that the supplement caused depression. In my depressed state I was having trouble understanding what she was saying I guess. How serendipitous. I have been not wanting to blog because I have been feeling so very negative and now like manna from heaven I have been offered an interesting chance to see if I can alter my mood without actually signing up for dreaded anti-depressants.

Stay tuned and keep sending the cute pics just in case.


Friday, May 9, 2008


I was redeemed on Tuesday after my bad mothering morning. I took Pearl to the field after school for a little forced labor. She planted a huge row of carrots, spinach and radishes and on our way home I asked her if she wanted to eat at Nina's Cafe. She answered almost vibrating "you are the best mom ever".

There you have it, redemption. All it took was a little understanding and some fried food.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Motherhood can really suck

I accused Pearl of lying to me this morning about washing her face. What kind of a monster am I?

She may have done it although I never heard the water running, but I could have been distracted as I feel like I am about 94% of the time. At any rate it didn't look clean, and she took real offense. Who wouldn't? What a bizarre thing to be accused of lying about. I am weary I guess, tired of reminding her about all these little things, brush your teeth, wash your hands, pee when you get up, pee before bed. It's the same thing over and over, tidy up your room, pick up your stuff.

I really want to be able to rise above the maintenance aspect of motherhood into the enjoyment of motherhood. Attitude, I command thee to change!


Saturday, May 3, 2008


Had a little scare this week when I misplaced my watch on Wednesday morning. The watch can be a forgetful thing. I put it on once I am dressed but this week it just wasn't in an obvious spot so I didn't put it on and then the day wore on and petty soon it was Friday and I was still not wearing it.

It got me thinking in a superstition direction. When my mother was slowing dying of cancer she and I took a trip to Greece. We cruised the Cyclades for 10 days on a small ex fishing vessel. Near the end of our trip we stopped at an island called Ios, it was a warm afternoon and we rode a bus away from the marina to a beach where we could take a swim. My mother was always a strong swimmer but the cancer, which had settled in her lungs had made her timid in the water. The boat had anchored at various spots and some of us had swum in the warm and salty Adriatic. She would not join us, she was afraid to be in the deep water with those compromised lungs. So she was excited to be able to wade into the water at this beach and paddle around.

When we got out and put our clothes back on she discovered she had misplaced her watch. It was a watch she had had for her whole adult life, a gift from her mother. It was an old Longines with a stained face, a delicate woman's watch that she had managed to keep with her for 50 years. Suddenly it was gone. The irony was not lost on me. She was dying and time did not matter, it was the beginning of the letting go. She died 6 months later.

I found my watch yesterday when I stripped the sheets off my bed. I was relieved. I still have time.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Here Vs There

Mark and I went shopping today at the Great Canadian Super Store. It is much as it sounds, great and super. It has everything. I bought this can of Baba Ghanoush or Eggplants (yes plural) Dip. It was 2.17 which to me seems worth it. It is all the way from Lebanon after all. I am quite curious to see what's inside. Delicacies from a foreign land, you don't see so much of this in Everson.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

First Day at the Field

On Tuesday this week I picked Pearl up from school and went over to Nancy's farm. It was our first day of helping out there. The field is located on the Nooksack River that flows through Everson. The whole valley along the river is a rich agricultural area. The soil is clay and sandy and good for growing. Our job on tuesday was to help tie up the 4, 250ft rows of raspberries. Pearl's job was to cut the string for the 3 adults who were tying up the berries. We also cleaned up last years canes out of the rows as well as pulling up great dry stalks of lambs quarters from the previous season. It was sunny and quite windy but totally pleasant. We worked for about an hour and a half, not so long on our first day out. Nancy came over to our house for a bowl of Barley soup and we looked over some seed catalogs to see what we wanted to plant. There seems to be a consensus on Sungold Tomatoes, I wanted some Fingerling potatoes, and Nancy has seed leftover from previous years for cabbage, broccoli, carrots, etc. She suggested we grow a few pumpkins too and said we could carve designs and words into them gently when they were small and the designs would expand as the pumpkins grew. I felt a bit tired from all the bending over and moving up and down the rows but it felt good to have put in our first day in the field.

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