Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Frame of Keys

I have acquired many house keys, because I have lived in many houses. Actually many isn't the right word... multitudinous, a multitudinous array of homes. Even though I usually return the keys after moving I've gathered quite the stash. So, I've taken all those keys and just before tossing them, thought ART ATTACK!

I removed all the key rings and chains, and placed the keys around the frame, to make sure they fit. I painted all the keys, with nail polish I got at a dollar store ($1.50 each), used an IKEA frame I already had ($2.99 each). I'm a big fan of spray glue, but I didn't think that would hold the weight of the keys, and I couldn't find my glue gun, so gorilla glue was the winner. I took off the back so it was just the frame, and no chance of glue getting on the glass. I let in dry, and now for a picture of my dream house, all done.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud

I'm finishing this book exactly two years late. It was supposed to be the book that kicked off a book club in January 2011 when it was just made very popular. Its unconventional leather bound first run of print had it re-selling for over $100 on ebay, creating a nice buzz. Who were these people buying a simple novel, of a first time author for $100? The next popular acclaim was winning the 2010 Giller Prize

Due to many complications the proposed book club of 2011 dissolved before it even made it to it's first book discussion. I was relieved, because it's a sad book, with war and infidelity staining it's pages, so I stopped reading even though I was 3/4's in.

Going through my bookshelf, I decided now is as good a time as any to finish what was started. The imagery is so strong, that even two years later, I vividly remembered passages. I felt like it dragged on at the beginning (it starts in Fargo), but it's real life, written like real life.

It is sentimental, and saddening, with vivid imagery the whole way through. Here are some quotes I enjoyed:
"As though I could, if I wished, take myself apart like a Russian doll and find myself in layers there, each one smaller, and more hollowed than the last."

"...sometimes now I'm astonished by the audacity of any attempt, including my own, at understanding anything at all."
"We were just like elephants, crashing around. Elephants, working for the government. Wanting coffee and smokes"

"My stories are all and then, and then, and then, when it didn't happen like that to me"

Friday, January 25, 2013

Let it snow!

It has been a hard transition coming back to Toronto. With my arrival I seemed to bring a week of warm weather, which I was not fond of, and a hockey truce, which I was pretty thrilled about. This week though, when I looked out the window of Cafe Novo, and saw a guy peddled his unicycle up the hill like it was no big deal, while it was snowing, I felt pretty at home. 

I was probably one of the only people in Toronto made blissfully happy by the new fallen snow and drastic cold temperatures. It was -18C which felt like -23C with the windchill factor. A radio broadcaster warned, "I don't care how pretty you are, cover your face, it's really that cold." Luckily in my quick pass through Panama City, I found an awesome winter jacket on sale and couldn't pass it up. It might be the best I've been layered in all my Canadian winters.

Going to a hockey game was a whole other homey feeling. The CN Tower was blue and white in support of the Leaf game. Since it was the opening game everyone was given a nice "Welcome Back", with free beer, t-shirts, scarves, and food. My Grandfather used to take me to the Maple Leaf Gardens and going to a few games a season is always a treat. It was a great atmosphere, I loved being surrounded by Canadian accents, talking about Canadian things.

I was checking out of my favorite Canadian comic's, Jillian Thomas, and this is what she had to say about the cold...

"Dear Teenagers walking down the sidewalk bitching about how cold it is, zip up your coat, wear a hat, try on a scarf and some mitts."

"Actually to all you bitching about the cold, wear some f*cking layers and remember most of you are Canadian. We don't bitch about the cold we apologize for it."

"My brother is a life long Winnipeger, he just wrote "Watched the first Jets game back, it's been snowing for 2 days straight, it's -38 with a high of -20 today, going to order a pizza and get a slurpee." That's how you deal with the cold."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I want to right away say, Not my favorite book, as it took me a while to warm up to, but when I got to the end, and was flipping through revisiting some highlights, I realized it's brilliance.
I was recommended this a few years ago, after I had watched Catch-22, and think of it as a classic ant-war book.  
Slaughterhouse Five has a special style to it, and I like how time is mixed up and gives you a sense of the chaos a regular soldiers life can be riddled with. So it goes.
Throughout the book you might want to laugh and cry but can't, Vonnegut traps you in the sadness and humor of real life. It is so peppered with fact and farce, that I was constantly caught wondering where the truth stopped and started. 

I've read other Vonnegut and love his quotes. This book is no exception, there are many memorable quotes:
* "So it goes"
* "Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops"
* " 'Why me'
'that's a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?'
'Yes.' Billy, in fact, had a paperweight in his office which was a blob of polished amber with three ladybugs embedded in it.
'Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.' "
* "She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies."
* "Only on Earth is there any talk of free will."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Jenn!

It's Jenn's birthday!! Which led me to create the ridiculous video below. I had some up close sloth footage, that I had been saving to share on her birthday. Then I finally read her facebook events page and realized she had a great request for her birthday this year. Option One was to go to her party and dance to fantasticly funky beats all night long. Her brilliance was with her Option Two, allowing her friends from all over the world participate in the dance party! The facebook event read: 
If, for some unfortunate reason, you cannot join me in person, send me a video or photo of your best dance move. You have a week to practice. Don't let me down. Bonus points for groups. Oh, and tell me what song you were jamming to. It will be the playlist of the (quarter of a) century.
So naturally, I thought a sloth paired with some monkeys and a turkey, all grooving to a k-os song was the way to go...

Back to the start

I just really love this video and it maches perfectly to the music, Willie Nelson doing a cover of the Coldplay song The Scientist.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Have you had someone just push a book on you and say it was good, and then that meant you just had to read it? Well that's what happened with The Bean Trees and I'm really glad it did, otherwise I don't know that I would have picked it up on my own. Thank you Rachel!

It is a wonderfully written story, and my first Kingsolver read. It carries it's sadness through humor. Simple truths make it touch your heart and the characters are so real, you think you could call them up for a coffee, if you were to ever drive through Kentucky, Oklahoma, or Arizona.

I judge a book by it's title and expected the whole book to be about bean planting, but the reason for the title is much deeper than that. Kingsolver has such an enthralling way of story telling, I believe the book must be based on a few true stories meshed into one.

If you're in a mix up of uncertainty, of what to read next, I can't shove it in everyone's hands, but recommend you go pick it up.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Samantha from Panama to Canada

I'm sad, a little heartbroken. I miss the jungle and the simple island life. When I got out of bed this morning I put on a long wool sweater and wool socks to take myself downstairs to breakfast. I'm back in Toronto and although there's no real snow yet, I could still see my breath when I went for a walk outside. I miss the jungle already. I have a nice desk in my room that looks out to a leaf-less tree... What happened to all the green I just saw? Culture shock is in motion.

I can't break the habit of using the waste bin in the bathroom for toilet paper instead of the toilet. I was so confused when I just turned the nob on the stove and didn't have any gas to light. I've been asked to not open any windows. After living with half walls, this is very hard for me, but it makes sense, we don't want to let all the cold air in and the hot air out. I feel like my skin has been sapped of all moisture. I was in 89% humidity and now down to central heating. I wake up in the middle of the night because it's too quiet, no fan, no chirps. 

Once I see my best friends, and my little cousins, and more family, I'll know I've made the right decision of coming back. I also came back to be responsible and make some money. I've spent all my savings, and gone into a bit of debt, nothing that a few months hard work in Toronto can't replenish. I'll probably get into my normal 'three jobs workaholic grind' in no time. I have an art studio and apartment to check on Monday, and at least two possible jobs I can start right away, but my mind keeps wandering to flight prices back to Panama.

Then I watch this video, all shot in Toronto. I know a trip downtown to my favorite places will also make this trip back North worth it. There are so many things I absolutely love about this city, I know in a few weeks it will all feel like home again.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I love the jungle but does the Jungle love me? Part 2

Continued from I love the jungle but does the Jungle love me

I was out in Bocas and its archipelago for a few months, and I feel pretty adapted to jungle ways. I know how to read most solar monitors. I can listen and guess the amount of inches of rainfall. I've bailed the boat in the middle of the night, and brought it back when the tide broke an anchor chain. I've moved a damn heavy propane tank. I walked around barefoot pretty much anywhere except on town pavement.

Jungle-3 Pride-1

I've adjusted to the jungle sounds and let all the crazy chirps and howls fade into the background. Being awake at 6, I listen to the birds and the lapping sound of water while I watch the sun come into the room. I only wake up now if it's too silent, or there's a cool breeze.

Jungle-3 Sleeping in-2

As my bug bites started to fade, new ones weren't as much of a worry. I've learned the simple sensory factor, if you feel something moving down it's probably a hair or water droplet and if it's a bug it will be off you soon. If it's crawling up, then it's in need of a slap, as it could be an ant or other biting bug. I changed to long pants and long shirts at sunset and sit under a fan, or use bug spray starting at 4:30. I don't get as strong a reaction to the bites anymore either.

When I was in the city of David for a night, I realized I'd rather have the sound of waves through open air cabins with the occasional cockroach and spider, than a sealed house with none of the above. I love living with half walls and windows unencumbered with screens or glass, living with the bugs and birds in an odd harmony.

Jungle-3 Bug harmony zone-3

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

To the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf made me understand, and finally appreciate commas. I used to hate run on sentences, but her writing has flipped me around. She writes in fluid thought. She is in each person's head, and writes sentences that get to the deep truth of the character, in such real and relatable moments. It was hard to read at parts because there is no plot, and you are just swimming to and fro in someones mind.

The book was also filled with a brilliant vocabulary with words like 'valediction' and 'pshawing' popping up at the right times. This was my first Virginia Woolf and I look forward to diving into a few more.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I have finished the monstrosity that is the Steve Jobs Biography. The last chapter sounds like the pitch to publishers, and if you want the summary of the whole book that's all you need to read. I got through the obsessive repetition; exact sentences are copy-pasted throughout the whole book. Obviously there was a push to be on the market days after Jobs' death, but with his only perfection attitude, he's surely rolling in the grave. I was hoping it would end with 'he died on a Tuesday, yadda yadda, explain funeral, yadda yadda' but no, the ending is a disappointing drawn out recollection of mini uninteresting interviews with his kids followed by more bland summary description.

I enjoyed reading about Jobs' philosophy, the whole A players only want to play with A players, B players must not be tolerated. Then the idea that integrated systems is best, collaboration between each department creates a synergy for a product, and a reputation for excellence, nothing less. I've read a lot of business and management books, and Jobs' recipe is the opposite to a Politically Correct and Human Resources friendly work environment.

There are some good nuggets, like the Pixar story, dating Joan Baez, and finding out he had a sister when he finally sought out his birth mother, but unless like me, you love and are passionate about the intersection of art and technology, or leaving behind a corporate legacy, you'll probably rue the day you picked up this heavy book about the life of a narcissist. I look forward to a racy retelling or a handbook just filled with Steve Jobs quotes.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sitting at the dock of the bay

That's the moon on a morning in Dolphin Bay
 As I was sitting on the dock, looking up at the stars without the interference of light pollution, I remembered a few days ago the amazing brightness of the moon. It reminded me of what I had read about pagan religions, and how many rites and rituals are based around the full moon. It just makes sense, when the moon is that bright, you don't need artificial light to lead your way, and it's a great time for a group of people to get together without help from the sun to see what you're doing.

I let my mind wander more as the wave tips pushed along the bio-luminescence. It may seem that I really do fly by the seat of my pants... Maybe it looks like I willy-nilly pick up and go someplace new with the blind faith that 'it will all work out', 'que sera, sera', and all that. I actually go into almost everything with a plan a,b,c,d,e,f,g, almost to m.

I always, no matter what, have a plan called 'if all else fails, I can always...'. This plan is usually something I've done before and know I can do again. The 'worst case scenario' of: I could borrow money if I'm in a pinch, I could go back to job xyz, I could live at xyz's place.

My diving board for most of my radical choices has been my firm knowledge in my 'if all else fails, I can go back to xyz, no matter what' plan. You can always go back to something, you will survive. 
I'm sure you've seen studies on happiness and the happiness of one nation compared to others. I've based my personal life happiness on my 'worst case scenario' plan. I don't look at how good things are, I look at the 'if all else fails' spot. Over the years it seems to get better and better. The moment I change it, or notice it change, I feel a huge wash of gratitude because, hey, my worst case scenario is better than rock bottom, it is better than it was.

Sitting out on the dock, with the stars and sea, I realized I could change my 'xyz', I could always come back to right here, and do it all over again. Never has my xyz also been a possible plan b and c. So for me, that means my diving board to spring off of just got a whole lot better. If I had never taken risks my xyz would have always stayed the same and I would have continued to have lived fearfully close to it.
Not all adventures work out the way we hope, but that doesn't mean it wasn't an adventure or a leap off the diving board. I recently read a facebook status of Nancy, the current housesitter of 'The Treehouse', who I've been corresponding with for months, that read:
"I think the challenges of rainforest living have helped me discover that I'm not the adventurer I thought. :-( It's just too hard. Sadly, we're going to go home earlier than planned. "
I was thanked for my positivity when I responded with:
"It's a tough house, so it's not just the jungle. Maybe there's another place that will crop up for you without as much chaos. You made the leap to go, that's where the adventure is!"
In a true adventure, you never really know how or where it's going to end. And, more oft than not comes with some great stories, because the finite details are unforeseeable. For most though, the biggest, hardest part of an adventure is making that first jump! Taking risks, and jumping off your diving board isn't nearly as scary, when you know what level the water is at, when you know the depths you're jumping to. If you know 'the bottom' will be right back where you've been before.

You might physically and habitually be right back where you were before, but the catch with that, is any good adventure will leave you a little changed, a little more self aware. If you're worried about making your next jump, check out these amazing cliff diving photos.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Challenge 2012

So, I didn't reach my goal, didn't even get halfway. Sometimes standing at where you want the finish line to be, and looking back at where you are, in accomplishing your goal, is gross. I wanted to read 50 books this year, and I read a sorry 20. Standing at the moment I made the goal and writing '50' and thinking "really? The most I've read in a year was 25 and now I'm doubling it!?". Standing at that point, I think 20 is a decent first year yard stick amount. There's always next year, to see how close I get to 50. So here is the final list, the books I read and the ones I didn't get to in 2012...

Book Challenge 2012

In full book nerd fashion I have signed up for a book challenge, I counted once and read 25 books in a year, but I love a challenge so thought I'd go for 50 books this year.
If you love books too you'll probably love Bookfessions a tumbler of great book-confessions and check out my Best Book Shelves pinterest board if real books make you ooh and ahh and sigh.

For all you ebook lovers, haters, inquisitors I have a kobo and I love it.

If you just can't get enough, during the month of April I am putting some of my favourite quotes about books on pictures I've taken on my Quotes Blog

If you have any of the titles below that are marked with a * in ebook form and want to send it my way I'd love to gobble it up!

Currently at 20/50

Here's my list:
1-4. Game of thrones series a Song of Ice and Fire books 2,3,4,5 (Finished book 1 in 2011) By George R.R. Martin (review)
5. Harry Potter (in Spanish) J.K.R(review)
6. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson currently reading
7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy currently reading
8. The Second City Unscripted By Mike Thomas (review)
9. Lamb By Christopher Moore (review)
10. The Big Short:Inside the Doomsday Machine by Micheal Lewis
11. Me Talk Pretty One Day By David Sedaris (review)
*12. I'm with the Band: Confessions of a groupie By Pamela Des Barres
13. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath By Sylvia Plath
14. Love Stories By Mary Roberts Rinehart
*15. The Wealthy Barber Returns By David Chilton
*16. Still Life with Woodpecker By Tom Robbins
17. What the Dog Saw By Malcom Gladwell
18. Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life By Steve Martin
*19. The Snows of Kilimanjaro and other stories By Ernest Hemingway
20. The adventures of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain
21. The adventures of Tom Sawyer By Mark Twain
22. Of Mice and Men By John Steinbeck
23. Stories I Only Tell My Friends By Rob Lowe
24. The picture of Dorian Grey By Oscar Wilde
25. The Paris Wife By Paula McLain (review)
26. The invisible Man By H.G. Wells
*27. Happy Accidents By Jane Lynch
28. Dead Souls By Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol
29. Tell me your dreams By Sidney Sheldon
30. Wuthering Hights By Emily Bronte
31. Seriously... I'm Kidding By Ellen DeGeneres
32. On the Road By Jack Karouac
*33. As the Crow Flies By Jeffery Archer
34. The Iliad By Homer
35. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) By Richard P. Feynman
36. Tuesdays with Morrie By Mitch Albom (review)
37. The Secret Places of the Heart By H.G. Wells
38. The Sisters Brothers By Patrick deWitt currently reading
39. The Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka
40. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot
41. The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne
*42. Fountainhead By Ayn Rand
*43. Then Again By Diane Keaton
44. Emma By Jane Austin
45. A Moveable Feast By Ernest Hemingway (review)
46. A Literary Paris by Jamie Cox Robertson (review)
47. The WAR of ART by Steven Pressfield (review)
48. The Snake Charmer by Jamie James (review)
49. An Awesome Book by Dallas Clatton (review)
50. The Professor and the madman by Simon Winchester (review)
51. The Proving Ground by G. Bruce Knecht (review)
52. Heart Thoughts by Louise L. Hay (review)
53. The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers currently reading
54. The five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom
55. The world is flat by Thomas L. Friedman
56. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
57. To the lighthouse by Virginia Wolf currently reading

Please message me your favorite reads of the year, or any you'd recommend.
Happy reading in 2013!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's 2013

Happy New Year! May your 2013 be awesome! Fun fact: The year hasn't been 4 unique digits since 1987, 25 years ago. Feeling special because that's the year I was born.
I'm a little sad to see this year ending because it's been my best one yet. Being a fan of numbers, and 13 being important for me, I'd like to go ahead and set the intention that this year is going to blow me away in being greater than I can imagine.
If you haven't started a gratitude journal yet, I can't recommend it enough. Doesn't have to be fancy, just write five things each day, even if it's on piece of scrap paper or a napkin, even if it just says the basics, like 'water, food, shelter, etc.'.