Sunday, March 29, 2009


I spent the day today working on preparing my taxes. It's not my favorite activity so I rewarded myself by indulging in a little fantasy thinking. A few years ago while camping at Alouette Lake in Canada with Mark and Pearl I came across a bunch of these teepees. They were set-up in a camp for at-risk first nations youth near the provincial campground. I was captivated by them. They are not only great examples of practical shelter they are totally sculptural. Perfect white cones. I want one. Sadly my cash flow is a bit drizzly at the moment so I can only dream about them. One day when the economy smartens up I plan on getting one and I am looking forward to sleeping out in it in the summertime.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What's it all About

Periodically I get a bit of feedback about this blogging thing. Recently it was pointed out to me that I had written something that might not be appropriately linked to my business site. I gave this some thought as I do when I encounter feedback of any kind and I had a mini revelation.

On one hand I want to project that I am a successful professional, reasonably good at what I do. To this end I like to discuss and share the projects I am working on in a positive way, as well as discussing the process of design with it's inherent ups and downs. I thoroughly enjoy what I do for a living and feel fortunate that I have been able to create the life I want here in the country. On the other hand I am a visual artist who runs a small business and my work can take a lot out of me. I work primarily alone which means I have a huge number of responsibilities which I alone shoulder. This can be highly stressful at times. Sharing my feelings about these activities help me process them.

What makes me good at what I do is my ability to work with people. I am a good listener and I am genuinely interested in how people feel. I enjoy working with people when I feel a real connection to them on a professional level and also on a human level. I am also interested in my own development and I am not afraid to share my frailties openly and without shame as a way of moving past the hard times in search of better times. I think there is a lot of masking of our authentic feelings in our society that leads to all kinds of bad behavior and unhappiness.

So it's a mixed bag here at the Rowanville blog. I'm going to talk about the work that I love, my kid, a little about my personal life and a lot about my personal development which informs everything else. And my hope is that readers of this blog might share some of my experiences and feel a little less alone in the world. Life is beautiful but sometimes it's not real pretty but it's all valid and I am open to discussing it. Read on!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Learning to be Sick

The patient patient

As a mom and more importantly, as a human being, I feel it is important to know how to be sick. Pearl is sick right now, she is on day three of a fever. Her spirits are excellent and I think I owe this in large part to how I approach being sick. When she was little and threw up for the first time instead of freaking out that this alien substance had just propelled itself up and out of her, we took a moment. She looked at the pool of barf on her bedroom floor and wanted to know what it was. Just short of getting a pointer and actually poking around in it, we observed together the undigested kernels of corn and bits of burger she had just eaten for dinner. The dog sniffed at it and then I cleaned it up. Since then she has thrown up a few times and bounces back really well even using the experiences against me, recalling the times I made her sick by feeding her something that was off. She laughs about it and when she has to barf she gets to the bathroom lickety-split. It's a problem to be dealt with and moved on from.

I am teaching her that being sick means you get to lay on the couch, watch your favorite movies and be waited on. There are some responsibilities, you have to brush your hair and your teeth and keep your jammies fresh so as not become too crusty. Yesterday I introduced her to trashy magazines, she found some 3D glasses in Entertainment Weeky and read the article about Monsters and Aliens. Occasionally she has a weak moment and whines something like "why is this happening to me?" and I try to remind her that the fever serves a purpose and that it will eventually pass. I also keep a box of articulated straws on hand which makes drinking endless cups of ice-water seem more pleasant. And there is the constant love and comfort of your mom. I check on her all the time and get her whatever she needs no questions asked.

Today when she gets up she will watch her favorite kids shows then I will have her stand in the shower and steam herself for a bit. We'll watch Nancy Drew (it's a favorite) and maybe Mama Mia, again. Later on if she is feeling up to it we'll play some checkers. She is learning that getting better takes time and it can be enjoyable even when you feel seriously awful which she does.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Still Life with Eddy

Eddy, getting loaded onto the bus

On Fridays Marks's dad Eddy goes out to a place called Maplewood House near our house in Abbottsford. It's primarily a care home but they offer adult daycare, Eddy has been going there for about 4 years. This morning when I got him up to go he was filled with questions about this weekly activity of which he maintains no memory. Today he wanted to know if it was a fashion oriented activity or if it was for craftsmen. Did he need to bring tools with him and what would he return with. He asked repeatedly if this weekend activity was religious. I reminded him it was Friday and it was not religious. Eventually he got around to asking if it was men only or mixed men and women. At one point he asked if it was "bisexual" which gave Mark and I a good laugh. We corrected him on his word choice and of course he was quick to assure us he was more interested in the ladies. He wanted to know if it was bilingual or english only. I am sure there are a few old dutch codgers there too but with Eddy you have to be careful about what information you introduce into his loop. He wanted to know how he got there, and he did have some information in his vault because he was able to ask if he went by bus or by car. A small bus comes to collect him. So off he went on his weekly odyssey that, upon returning home, he will have no memory of. In fact he won't remember that this place is his home either. Fortunately he remembers us and the dog so he never seems to feel lost just confused.

I like these mornings with him when he is lucid and aware. Mostly he spends his time quite withdrawn and silent, it's fun when he is animated and curious about his situtation. Today he kept asking if Mark and I approved of this activity. I told him that we heartily approved and this seemed to give him real pleasure.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Brazilian Economy

A snarky friend commented recently on Facebook that in about 6 months we'd be seeing some frowny faces of people who can no longer afford their Botox shots. This is only the tip of the iceberg. A few weeks earlier as I struggled with whether or not to get my hair cut, at $60 bucks a crack, I figured the money was better used elsewhere, on food or gas for example. Of course I could not stop there being in possession of the thought process of a ninth grade boy I started to think about all the poor furry pussies who 's owners could no longer afford to have them waxed and maintained. It's horrifying when you stop to think about it. The millions of once smooth southern oasis' now stubbled and unshorn. Brazilians gone awry. This downturn in the economy is affecting the seen, the unseen and the unimaginable. Will we see a return to more visible body hair in these hard economic times? Braided armpits, furry necks and backs, unwaxed lips, north and south. It affects men and women alike. Will friends get together secretly for waxing parties, the dreaded home job? As you know it's pretty hard to rip the hair off your own labia.

Personally, I am considering a small skirt to wear over my swimsuit to deal with this problem, it's cheaper than a full waxing and will last all summer.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wrapping Paper or Art

Jason and Sarah's dining room

I designed some wrapping paper last year using letterpress printed elements. I used my super extended slab serif wood font which I love and a series of small metal futuristic dingbats. Layering the elements with varying levels of transparency to mimic the letterpress effect I created these oversize compositions. My good friends photographer Jason Koski and his lovely wife Sarah Koski bought some of it via Etsy. Here is a picture of the series of 3 designs adorning the walls of their circa 1850 farmhouse in Trumansburg, New York. Nice I thought.

Feel free to dash over to Etsy and buy some too I have 1000 of each design and could really stand to free up some space in my office. Happy Sunday!

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Big Brain

Several years ago, 18 to be exact I suffered a grand-mal seizure. After the dust settled and I had a chance to call my sister the first thing she said to me was something to the effect of perhaps the large brain pan I had was not such a blessing after all. I had teased her relentlessly over the years about how her puny her head was and now she was getting back at me. It was good, I needed a laugh. For 6 months after this episode I took several anti-epileptic drugs which had various interesting side effects. The most annoying of these being a loss of access to my vocabulary when excited. I stuttered slightly and was at a loss for words quite often. I also had my drivers license revoked while I was taking these drugs. I lived in the San Fernando Valley at the time and worked in Hollywood. Getting to work without a car was a bitch but that is another story.

This story is about anxiety and how mine developed. When your brain fails you it raises many ugly questions. I became acutely aware of the fact that I had no control of things in my world. I realized my brain could simply cease functioning and that would be that. It scared the shit out of me and that was when my anxiety attacks started. It didn't help that I was married to someone who was also suffering the same illness. It was a co-dependent hoe-down.

My anxiety continues to this day in varying degrees and recently I stopped taking a medication that I thought was helping. It wasn't, something in my brain had changed and the help was turning to hurt. I felt I was slowly becoming unglued, I am getting older and my hormones are changing, I am not sure what my brain chemicals are up to but what I do know is that my thoughts about death were increasing and when suicide starts seeming like a viable solution its time to look at what's going into your body and how the old brain is reacting to it. The anxiety was replaced with deepening depression. Anxiety you can control, its mind over matter. I can distract myself, practice deep breathing filling my belly with air and exhaling, I can implore myself to relax. I can go for a run, I can chop firewood, make love, going skiing, it all helps. Depression on the other hand is nasty business because it weakens you and takes hold, it's harder to talk the brain out of depression because you begin to feel so physically shitty. I could see the world I loved but I barely had the energy to enjoy it.

I am a lucky smart girl and I have learned to pay attention to my brain. So far it's reacting well, not causing me too much trouble except when the barometric pressure changes but that's manageable. I am fascinated by how my brain works, what effects it and how I can control it. I have learned which substances to avoid and which activities to embrace. Just like with babies, you can't fall in love with any phase because once you do the baby changes. I think this is a pretty apt metaphor for how I see my brain as it continues to develop. It, ergo me, is changing all the time. Ideally the result—finished product—appears as wisdom and over time it increases.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


During my previous life true happiness was a struggle. In those years I learned about myself and my own capacity for joy and happiness. I am an optimist primarily but like everyone I have doubts and worries and fears. Death is a big one of course and I often weigh everything against the reality of my own demise. I have learned though that this is not helpful thinking. The mind is a very powerful thing as I re-learn daily and in the last 7 years I have become more happy and plan to continue in this direction. I choose everyday to be happy. Things come up which disappoint and confound me but if I can step back and gain some perspective on the situation there is often a resolution which is easily attainable. It is amazing how much you can re-direct your thinking away from negativity and worry toward true happiness.

I found this blog today which has some really good advice about happiness .

One thing, actually two things that make me happy are the stuffed monkeys I have on my big bed. One is orange and one is brown, they have crazy long arms and legs with bits of velcro on their ends. I can wrap their arms around each other and attach them. They remind me of Mark and me with our long limbs winding around one another in a playful satisfying embrace. I am not a stuffed animal fanatic or anything but these monkeys appeal to me and make me happy.

As we head into tougher times I think it's worthwhile to take stock of all we have and the simple things that make us happy like stuffed monkeys and sunshine.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


My mother on castle rock in Edinburgh Scotland in her 20's, circa 1950

Today marks the 12th anniversary of my moms death. It's a day of remembrance and reflection. It's easy to elevate the dead, to canonize them to the level of sainthood. She was not a saint of course but she was a really good mother. The thing I am most grateful to her for is that she was always herself, fiercely so. When I was a kid, parents didn't bend over backwards the way they do today to entertain their kids or offer them greater opportunities than they had themselves. I didn't have swimming lessons, I wasn't a Brownie, I never learned to play the piano.

I am the youngest of 4 children and when I was small before I went to school I just hung out with her as she went about her life. Lucky for me she was a really interesting person. She gardened, and painted, she sewed and skied. She went to Keep Fit class and she was a member of a weavers guild. I went everywhere with her and I saw her as a person, not just my mother. I knew her wittiness, her sadness, and her wickedness. She was strong and fit and beautiful and she protected me. She was a lioness, a goddess, she was vulnerable and unapologetic.

I have modeled myself after her in many ways particularly in my parenting style. I am a no-nonsense mom, firm but fair, I want to share my love for the world with Pearl. I also want her to know me, the good and the bad, the contradictions and the convictions. I want Pearl to know that my love is unconditional and immense but I also want her to understand my limits and my weaknesses. My greatest regret about losing my mom so early is that she did not get to see me be a mother, and that she never got to meet Pearl. I could cry for a week about that. Mostly though, I just feel lucky that I had her in my world for as long as I did and for all the gifts she gave me, the greatest being the purity of her love for me.
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