first snow

28 November 2013

there is something so wonderfully heartwarming and yet also deeply melancholic about the quiet beauty of the first snowfall. the lure of pure white, blanketing the muted browns and already barren landscape as if giving permission to hibernate and rest. marking the change of seasons and yet also distilling that change into one silent and suspended moment. the lure of pure white when it is still magic, the air fresh and crisp and remarkably warm, before the drudgery of the northern season unapologetically sets in.

i wish i could have stood in that reverent moment, looking out at my favourite snow-covered spruce trees, just a little while longer....


12 September 2013

i started this week with intention(s)—i won’t call them good; i want only to say that i set out with intention, with purpose and plans and the mind to see them through, only to be impeded by falling ill with a common cold and the body aches, chills, and fatigue that came with it. sometimes life simply interrupts our plans and we have to accept it with grace, perhaps even interpreting the interruption as a sign that we need to slow down, take pause, or otherwise make a change in our lives; other times these interruptions become excuses that we attempt to use as reasons to justify our failures, faults, or nonperformances.

as i failed to meet some of my goals and deadlines this week, spending a lot of time resting in bed, i thought more deeply about what it means to live with intention—to live everyday with purpose and meaning, according to one’s own beliefs, values, and convictions, whatever they may be. i will refrain from saying living authentically, because i am not sure that i know what that really means or that i even believe in “authenticity” or an “authentic” mode of being, which has become something of a catchphrase in the blogging and other communities where it is embedded in discussions of transparency, uniqueness, and speaking from you heart and in your own voice in a way that is unique and unforced rather than unoriginal and contrived—a notion that i find highly problematic.

there is a discourse in my field of study (contemporary art history) around the impossibility of “presence” and authenticity in the visual arts that inhibits me from taking notions of “authenticity” or “authentic” meaning and expression seriously. i am not talking about the authenticity of a work of art in the sense of identifying its maker and provenance, but of the discourses of authenticity that develop around particular art movements and forms, of the notion of authenticity as a value possessed by a work of art as a result of the “authentic” expression of it its maker. while modernist art discourse is well known for having claimed this so-called authentic expression for modernist painting and sculpture, i am thinking more specifically of interrogations of claims for the authenticity and “presence” of live art, that a live art performance is somehow more truthful or “authentic” than its documentation. just like there is no “original” body outside of discourse, so too there is no “original” live art event that can somehow be retrieved or known, that we can refer to in order to confirm the true meaning of a performance work (i have to credit my supervisor, Amelia Jones, here, whose scholarship and thinking on contemporary art, performance, the body, and identity never fails to influence on my own thinking on these subjects).

my investedness in this kind of scholarship means that i necessarily separate living a life of intention from one of authenticity, however superficial such a separation may seem. simply put, i am suspect of notions of being “true to oneself,” of being “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character” despite external influences and pressures, as if such a definition is self-evident or even possible given the cultural influences and media with which any notion or sense of self is necessarily entangled. the contemporary discourse of authenticity suggests that there is an authentic, true, unmediated, original self that we can somehow magically access without any external influence and share with the world, say through the pure, uncontrived and unfiltered form of social media. right. see why i’m skeptical? despite my skepticism, however, i do believe that we can choose to live with intention, to mindfully choose how we live each day—or at least, attempt to choose how we live each day and according to what values.

most of the time, i think i really do with with intention, purpose, and thoughtfulness, but then i have one of those days that seems to magnify my shortcomings and failures and seeming inabilities to “do” certain things, idly allowing time to pass or things to happen without taking full control—one of those days that makes me feel like i need to try to be a better human, where i take notice of all the good and beautiful things that i don’t deserve.

i am not sure where i am going with all of this, and i certainly do not have all the answers. but what i can do is try to be the best person i can be, with constant, conscious effort, and in ways both big and small. i can be honest with both myself and with others; i can be transparent about how i live and do things without making some grand claim for authenticity, the very notion of which necessarily and falsely implies a dichotomy between authentic and inauthentic living.

on change and rest and things to come

28 August 2013

"Rest and be thankful." - William Woodsworth

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." - Ovid

while i've been absent from this space over the past two months, things have transitioned from a seeming state of upheaval to one of rest. without warning, andrew and i introduced some big and fast changes into our lives—although now that things have had time to settle, the changes don't feel so big. there have been so many things that i've wanted to share in the interim, so many images i've wanted to post, words i've wanted to write, and updates i've wanted to make, but i felt this strange responsibility to account for my absence and fully explain the changes before i could do so.

in one of those serendipitous sequence of events, where the decision almost seemed to make itself, we decided to leave Renfrew County and make our lives elsewhere, closer to the city but still outside of city limits. part of what precipitated this decision was our discovery of a hidden black mould problem in our country apartment, which had without a doubt been negatively affecting our health and mental states. but more than the immediacy of the mould problem, we also knew that we had to plan for the future, in advance and before it hit us hard. which meant andrew leaving the bush to take a new, better-paying (although still forestry-related) job that would allow me to focus on finishing my PhD while also having easier access to the city and its resources. and finally, we simply needed a larger, more appropriate and productive space, where i could more effectively work from home and where we weren't tripping over each other, the animals, and all of our stuff. we realized that we were expending far too much energy trying with everything we had to make things work, and it simply wasn't working. we needed more than anything to make a change, and so we did. but part of making that change also meant admitting a lot of hard truths to ourselves.

and so here we are, over a month later. we are still in limbo, living out of suitcases and boxes with our three animals in the attic of my in-laws' 180 year-old stone house overlooking the St. Lawrence River, as much as i am embarrassed to admit it. but i think it goes without saying that we've all been there in one way or another. you swallow your pride, take your alms with a thankful quietude, gather your resources and make your way. more than feeling ashamed, i am humbled and thankful that i have been allowed this rest. for the first time in all of our moving adventures, we have been able to take the time to find the right place to live, to steadily choose the place that we want to call home. and i think we found it—a charming two-storey apartment in an historic red brick house built in 1880 in Prescott, Ontario. like any place, it's not without its faults and quirks, but i think it is going to give us what we need. we don't move in until October, but for now the feeling of having found a place and having something tangible to look forward to is enough. the fruit of the decision we spontaneously made over two months ago awaits us, and once it is ours everything will have been worth it.

the first photo is a scene from my mother-in-law's effortless garden, which i am blessed to experience every day while we stay here, and the second is a view of the backyard at your new place. i love the installation of empty frames hanging from the arbour and even had a discussion with our new landlord about the institutional and discursive function of frames in art history—yes, i totally geeked out.

red skies

26 June 2013

after yesterday's torrential storm, the skies opened up. ablaze with the most incredible, unfiltered light.

fade into green

24 May 2013

Spring rain
conveyed under the trees
in drops.
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Spring in the Valley has been wet and slow to unfold, full of a few unseasonably hot days followed by miserable, cold and damp rainy ones. but with the rainfall has come the most incredible lush green. everywhere. first with the spring flush, and then suddenly in full bloom, the fields and woods thick with green and wet with the heavy after scent of rain.

last weekend we explored a local old growth maple/beech/hemlock forest. as we walked in the rain, the entire forest was brimming with life and was saturated with stunning shades of green. we fished for hours in the nearby pond and it too was enveloped by moody greens, mixed with the sobering grey of the sky and water.

and then there is the early morning mist and the mud. Andrew spent the past few weeks tree planting, and this week was particularly miserable, muddy, and wet, exposing a rugged, harsh, and honest landscape that never fails to take my breath away.

handmade harvest

10 May 2013

this past weekend i participated in the Spring edition of Handmade Harvest at the Almonte Agricultural Hall in the lovely town of Almonte, not far outside of Ottawa. it was a perfectly rustic, historical venue and a well-curated show, featuring a wonderful range of artisans and crafters. i couldn't imagine a more supportive, down-to-earth environment for my first show. i had an amazing time meeting fellow vendors and handmade enthusiasts, catching up with old friends, and making new connections (and eating a few delectable treats!). i also want to extend a BIG thank you to Emily & Colleen, the wonderful ladies who put on the show—they have some mad organizational skills and are truly invested in what they do, which is a huge part of what made the day so successful. oh, and Almonte? i think i love you. 

Andrew spent most of the day with Scout, our new Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy, who we brought with us to the show. it was a beautiful, hot, summer-like day, so luckily the venue was on a gorgeous river where Scout could cool down in the water. it was his first time swimming in deep water—a proud moment that i sadly missed, but that Andrew candidly captured in a series of photos. they're so sweet i couldn't resist sharing. he's a little charmer, and expresses the spirit of the day perfectly. 

next month, i will be selling my wares at Urban Craft in Ottawa, so if you're in or around the city you can look for me there. the lineup of vendors is nothing short of AMAZING—i am delighted to be included among them and look forward to the show!

pink moon

26 April 2013

pink moon no. 1
pink moon no. 2
pink moon no. 4
pink moon no. 6
late last night, after midnight, i happened upon a perfect view of the full pink moon. first through the budding branches of the trees, and then in the open sky, cloaked by an illuminated veil of clouds. i lost myself in its lyrical beauty for awhile, alone in the sweet fresh air of a quiet spring night. 

spring equinox // double exposure

20 March 2013

today is the Spring Equinox, that fateful day filled with equal hours of light and darkness, where day and night are held in perfect balance. more than the "first day of spring," it is a moment of pause followed by what is perhaps the most cherished seasonal shift for those who live in the North; a promise that budding growth and long, sun-filled days will emerge from beneath the frozen landscape—even if not precisely on this seemingly arbitrary day. while it snowed most of the day here, the light seemed almost tireless, uplifting. for me, that's what today signals most: the coming of light, the reassurance that soon the light will outlast the darkness and we will be able to emerge from hibernation and shed our heavy layers. captivated by this promise, the feeling i had today was one of dissolving into nature, of dreamy double exposures, subtle florals, and soft, enchanting light. 

photo sources: one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten / eleven / twelve

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