Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Year of the LBD in the darkroom.

Ooh la la. That title shrung the inside of my head when I typed it. Scandalous, non? I am hopeful for scandal this year. I have experienced the bad kind, but not enough of the healthy kind.

Dear wind, send it.

Part. A.

I'm up in the woods
I'm down on my mind
I'm holding a still
To slow down time.

I'm up in the woods
I'm down on my mind
I'm holding a still
To slow down time.

I'm up in the woods
I'm down on my mind
I'm holding a still
To slow down time.

I sat wrapped in a blanket in my home, wearing a ski suit and a bandana (I am in a very strange clothing phase right now) listening to the vinyl that Tiff lent me this afternoon. Bon Iver's Bloodbank, Junior Boys, Do Make Say Think, Cat Stevens (an album I do not own and had never heard--I forget which one) and a handful of others that I normally wouldn't think to buy when I go to the music store to peruse vinyl. Thanks girl, you have great taste. Anyway, I was sitting and my ears pricked up when I heard those lyrics. The song is those four lines over and over but every verse is built up with another harmonic voice. The voice behind Bon Iver (Good Winter) is achingly pretty, masculine but still pretty and all of his music is especially winter-appropriate. I listen to him year round, but I appreciate him most in the dark of winter. Always. The song Woods (the four lined tune) has a Kaynesque twist that is also done achingly well. When I listen to Bon Iver the world quietens, lights dim and blur and my ears are open only to that man's voice. There are not many other albums that do that for me. Three shows that changed my musical life were Sigur Ros (I stood slack jawed with awe clutching my heart for the entirety. It was epic on every level. Even the opening act was epic), Jose Gonzalez (I sat in the Park Theater clutching Rebecca's hand while open-mouth weeping. Haha. I think she was doing the exact same thing. Insanity), and Bonnie Prince Billy (he sang me to sleep [standing UP]; enough said).

Anyway, those Bon Iver lyrics planted themselves in my head this night and for good reason. Tomorrow I am going up and into the woods, to a Mom+Dad cabin filled to the brim with musical instruments, lovely people, good wine, good cheese, a laden dinner table and a dock outside. Perfect. I jumped at the chance to skip out on this year's New Years party roster. I do have one hell of a dress hanging in my closet though. Shoot. It probably doesn't fit anymore anyway (I bought it during an over-zealous/gladiator-body/fliffing-cash high a week after arriving back from the bush). I saw it and whispered "that's the one" in Club Monaco. Maybe 2009 was not the year of the dress. Maybe 2010 will be the year of the LBD, maybe not.

Maybe this will be The Year of the Darkroom. That would be awesome. Everyday for the past few months, I have willed a darkroom into my life. That must read oddly. Whatever. I am feeling pretty confident and hopeful and antsy with anticipation about the whole thing. It sort of feels like a test for the Universe and I am at the controls (sort of). I love social experiments too these days. Regardless of whatever happens with this dream darkroom, it is nice to feel excited and hopeful about art again. A new kind of art. An complimentary skill of a skill that I am already in love with. I felt the same way just before trying silkscreen for the first time. Maybe it is silly, but a darkroom in my home just makes sense. I will keep you.

To all of you who took time this year to read my rambling words, thank you. I appreciate you and cannot believe you come back to this. Thank you for that. To all you steppers out there lookin' sharp, I wish you a happy turn of the new year. Scandalous things can happen at the turn, be open and careful. As for me, I will be up to my knees in snow in the woods, playing, drinking nice wine and Belgian beer, laughing my head off with my friends.

Happy New year, dear people.

Love, Meg.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

P.S. I love you

Dear Edith, hi it is Francoise.

Lettuce. Let us revive what has been very good to us.

Besides, we never know what 2010 will pour forth. I would like to know that there is a place I can go to in case I am breaking up with someone in a Dairy Queen phone booth again. I would like to know that there is a place I can go to to read and then laugh aloud in public, forgetting to cover my mouth and this resulting in a mouthful of coffee all over my computer screen. I would like to know that there is a place I can go to to spell out deep and dark things and rest assured that you will love me no less. Spell away, read away, write away. Lettuce run away.

Let us. Shall we?

You photograph retardedly well.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Hand to mouth.

Dear Wind, pick up.

This week I was called 'young' twice. Once by an acquaintance of mine in their mid thirties, and once by myself while standing in the middle of a bookstore. This week I feel it too, and not the good kind either. Blind young. Floundering young. Wild young. Bad young.

After dinner three nights ago with Scotch and Rags in little Vietnam, we drove to the mall (of all places) to exorcise our inner yuppies. We even got eggnog lattes. While shuffling around the beehivesque bookstore under the main floor (similarly to you, Liza) I fell into a zen-like state. Instant bliss at McNally Robinson, always. I looked for some stuff and waved stupidly at the Phantom carpenter decending the escalator. After said wave, I found myself cursing my youth while hiding in the photography section. Well, mainly my young years. I don't really know what to say, sometimes I wear my age well, and all the rest of the time I am blowing it at being young. Majority of the time I am guilty of racing forward through time by means of wishful thinking, willing future husbands and babies and dream jobs into my open, idealistic arms. With that said, I have never been one to rewind with regret. If I do find myself going back in time, it is usually to the recent past that has glued itself to my insides with joyful connotations.

Now it is Christmastime. Here it is, hi hello.

I am well fed, drinking wine at the table surrounded by my blood. We played cards and are about to set the table yet again for another feed. This was a good season and the goodness and generosity of my family made me weep on the floor of my Grandma's closet--twice. It is never a family gathering without some epic crying session and a roomful of raised voices. Yes, we sang. We always sing. I am always my proudest when we sing in collective voice. I could sing those hymns forever. To be frank, even with all the singing and the eating and the neck craning laughter, this year I felt like I was missing an important link, a chunk, a portion, a sliver, a limb, a pivotal organ. I arrived incomplete, burdened, heavy booted and wild eyed. Christmastime is supposed to be joyful but all I could think of was the last family gathering when I was none of those things. I am not sure. I am unsure.

All I know for sure, for sure is that fingers are crossed in high hopes that the year ahead will be filled to the tits with art making and photo printing (in my home, in the room that should host the kitchen but doesn't and never will. This is an acknowledged downside. On the bright side, I recently traded a round of wedding photography for a darkroom) and cooking (oh please God send me a kitchen) and baby holding and tree planting and food serving and land coverage and lots of drawing and a shit tonne of printmaking. All of those things would be welcomed. The year of the art. The art of what? I am unsure.

I do know that I will be back on a short bus in five mere months, lacing up my boots (new steel toe Vikings for Christmas, I guess that means I am almost a vet?!) with cold fingers, weaving music through my ears and psyching myself up for another day against the elements. The elements are welcomed; my body needs a good weathering. In five months I will be homeless once again. Something which I am also okay with. As far as the patch in time from now until May, I am unsure. I spy transition in the interim. Those damn, unpredictable interims--they get me everytime. God only knows.

Take me Wind. Blow me across the sea into the arms of someone with a noteworthy mouth. Or toss me to the treetops and let me sing my loudest in the land. Strip me and shake the coins from my pockets, send me sailing down Main in the fiercest of tailwinds on my bicycle. Land me in the lap of luxury, heave me to the depths of despair. Dear Wind, please keep me moving, I could care less of the direction. Give me something to write about.

(I will probably regret writing that in two months).

Two steps forward one step back. I know that dance. I will take it so long as I am in motion.

This has been an interesting year. Never in my wildest would I have imagined all of the bananas things that went down this year. Goodnight! Apparently, steaks are on in my childhood home and I can hear my name is being called through the hall, down the stairs and into the old blue room where I am tappa-tapping contentedly. I am home, for now.

Happy interim, your Madgesty.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Family of the year.

Chris, Jill and Rollin take home the Family of the Year award, also hands down.

Couple of the year.

Scotch and Rags take home the Couple of the Year award, hands down.

One thousand words.

These photographs of Will, Bram, baby Brave and James speak one thousand words. Boys, thank you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Radiant in gladness.

The welcomed taste of Two Rivers on tap still lies on my tongue lightly woven with raw onion and a tiny hint of anise. My friends faces full of throaty laughter are pressed in my thoughts like pretty flowers lost in a book. This evening held a date with Jessica Alba through the city's powdered streets, the first bike spill of the season in the middle of the street in the Village, a single flat tire, a winter walk with my lady on my shoulder, an hour spent tuning methodically on the floor of my home while listening to the most prized vinyl score of the season, a long letter to L, a quick cup of coffee, a happy car ride to arena land with Rags, Scotch and Detroit. The boys morphed into twelve year old boys in front of our eyes in the cold parking lot of the arena. Watching them, I was eleven again playing in a snowsuit at the Rosenort arena with Chantelle. Perfect, I haven't been eleven in a long, long time. Rags was not at all phased by the quick transition but I watched them, transfixed. They ran for the dressing room to join their team the No Regretzkys and suited up for the game. Rags and I sat behind the glass eating my mum's fresh paypenate and catching up. I love that woman. Rabbi, Boots, Kit and Strangler rolled in in a flurry of parkas and laughter and Kitty and I ran for each other. Her legs are one hundred miles long. I almost forgot since she moved to the mountains to become a journalist. It was almost relieving to see her; I do not know the word to describe it. It is nice to be reminded with no words at all that I have generous friends. Generosity of self. Friends who give a shit about family (their own as well as ours), who continually waive my habit of slept-through brunches and high teas with absolute grace. In the way they care for me, I care for them and thus we care for each other. These people are hilarious and animated and ridiculous and all very different in personality, but on nights like these when we sit nine strong around a table loaded with post-game pitchers and greek salads and veggie burgers and samosas, I feel very lucky. Kit, I am so glad you are home for now. I missed your willowy frame around the table, so much so. In the words of my current muses, I am radiant in gladness for them and the season that lies in wait before us. Floor hockey tournament try outs start next week. The Zamboners are going to reign over the league that has yet to be given life. Earl Grey community center (or wherever) will never be the same. Neither will Martha Street studio after I finish printing our jerseys. Dad, looks like you will have a hockey player daughter after all. Awesome.

And now, a song from musical wizards Daniel, Fred & Julie.

I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair. Born like a vapor in the summer's air. I see her tripping where the bright streams play. Happy as the daisies that dance on her way. Many were the wild notes her merry voice would pour. Many were the blithe birds that warbled them o'er. I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair, floating, like a vapor on the soft summer air. I long for Jeanie with the day-dawn smile. Radiant in gladness, warm with winning guile. I hear her melodies like joys gone by. Sighing round my heart over fond hopes that die. Sighing like the night wind and sobbing like the rain. Wailing for the lost one that comes never again. I long for Jeanie and my heart bows low, never more to find her where the bright waters flow.

Goodnight moon, she sleeps.


Monday, December 7, 2009

On again, off again.

This is a ludicrous admission but since I cannot find a reason not to write it, I simply will. Well, a few ludicrous admissions actually.

Admission No. 1. More often than not, as I have written before, I find myself in my home, dressed head to toe in work clothes, work tights, work socks, with haggard face and sometimes dirty body. Sometimes I even wear boots, indoors. There is a hard hat in my wardrobe. It is grey and has splattered winter white paint across the front. (Yes, I know this is absurd). What I have noticed lately is that I seem to fall into my second skin when I am not paying attention, or when I am anxious or when I need to quiet my thoughts. I free fall easily into it. That second skin being that of a tree planter, or the version of myself this past summer. (I know I keep writing about this, and let me apologize if it becomes very obnoxious to read; but I simply have to write down what comes out about that entire experience this summer, because trust me, I did not write a damn thing when I was there. So. With that said, I am going to stop apologizing for being a tree planter and just get on with my confessional). Okay, sometimes when I am home I step back into the bush even if it is only through my clothes. I like to listen to a very specific chain of music in a very specific order and through this, I am transported to a place in my head where all I can see is land. If my head were to be cracked open during one of these quiet nights, it would probably look like a chunk of Boreal forest (clear cut et al) and it is pretty ridiculously pretty. When things quiet down (even if there is music playing--vinyl or headphones) it is almost as if my mind snaps open and it is only then in that tiny window of retrospect that I am finally able to write down what happened. Anecdotes march in, memories in short film-like form are projected against a wall in my head and I watch all of the faces that I would have died to photograph roll past.

These are all the people I told multiple times a week that I would kill to photograph:

- Stu Hatch (a half Brit, half Chinese sinewy beauty with almond eyes the color of green sea water)
- Alex Sikoursky (a giant, ginger-haired Russian with the hairiest body and the sparkliest eyes and the most delicate taste in music. He also had the most amazing yelling voice I have ever encountered. Whenever we would be late leaving the Block, Zach would get Alex to climb onto the roof of the bus to yell for the slowpoke of the crew. I am positive he was an extra in the Lord of the Rings series)
- Jim (Harry Potter goes tree planting; adorable and tender and humble wrapped up in one goofy ball. This man could quip like Josh Ruth)
- Matt Perez (intense eyes, one blue and one green with long dreads. He radiated blue/green light and had been living in China in a temple in the mountains learning Karate from a Master just before he came planting. Insane. He caught me off guard and kissed me once during a full moon and my standards for surprise make-outs were forever altered)
- Larry Legend (basically the most good looking french man you can ever conjure up in your imagination, that is Larry. S-E-X-Y of the untouchable variety)
- Nikki (a living dirt fairy with long, long curly hair and a passionate Quebeciose accent who wore round sunglasses better than any woman I have ever met. She told me once while we were prepping carrot sticks on a day off that she liked to garden in the nude. My kind of woman. Her children will be unbelievable creatures. Also, watching her interact with Christian, her brother, made me miss my siblings terribly)
- The Piglets: Jason and Christine (one of the most insane couples I have ever encountered. You really have to meet them to understand. They met in Drama Club in high school years ago and have been in love ever since their first onstage kiss. Amazing. Anytime I was drunk I would interview them because I couldn't get enough. Conversations with the Piglets were like a drug to me)
- Dan White (never called just Dan, Dan White was like that token boy in grade three that no one could stand, but everyone loved dearly. The summer would not have been right without him. Dan White once made bird noises for eight straight hours. No lie. He also got naked at five thirty in the morning one day while singing The Animal Song and body surfed the length of the crew bus, which is quite an impressive feat)
- Sarah McCaw (if I had had my camera the day McCaw felt into the swamp up to her neck, I would be a millionaire now. Seriously. I almost died from laughter and despair that day. I never thought being sucked down by a swamp was an actual reality until that moment. I do not remember how we got her or the quad that was loaded with about two thousand trees when it sank, out)
- Alex Nosrat (he had the driest sense of humor and a ridiculously good personality and eyes you could see shining all the way across the field. He usually had an eagle feather stuck into his hardhat and a planted in a football jersey made for an eleven year old boy. He was amazing and an eternal land slut)
- Dave Chianci (a Montreal Italian who I never saw without one of those expensive baseball hats on his head and diamonds in his ears. Enough said)
-Matt Markel (I don't know where to begin. We just got each other. I wish I had my camera the day he found me crying on the side of the road after deciding to leave the initial man in my life. His face at the moment he saw my train wreck face? Click, snap, amazing)

*Interesting roster. The women didn't make that great of an impression on me I suppose. This is just the tip of the iceburg of some of the amazing personalities I met. I met the shortest lived love of my life with the greatest mouth on the plantet. Oh, that. Amazing.

Anyway, this year I will not make the same grave mistake.

Back to Stu, he was the first planter that I noticed to have "the walking T". Straight back, broad everything, a T frame of perfect proportion that comes from months of insane physical labor and a hyper metabolism. Basically, he had the body of a teen gladiator. Retarded. He also had one of the most interesting faces I have ever seen in my life. He had the darkest brown scarecrow hair and all summer he asked me to cut it off for him. For some reason I never did. I think it was too appropriate to cut. Stu taught me how to plant fast. After planting with him for three days, my quality took a nose-dive and my productivity tripled. We never would have pair planted together if it weren't for Jim (Jim looks like a 21 year old Harry Potter. He was nerdy and free spirited at the same time. It was a beautiful combination of character that he wore well. I bet he was a wizard or a prince in another lifetime). Jim kept slutting (slutting means poaching someone else's land, or cheating the system for selfish purposes, kind of) Stu's land and eventually Stu was so fed up he stormed onto my piece and said, "fuck this. Today we're pair planting". The three of us were initially put on this monster piece together. Picture a giant, giant, giant hill that dips down into four weird valleys, each divided by a series of short corridors and then cut the entire thing in three. Just as he was passing our dividing flag line, I was puking my brains out at my cache. Heat stroke? Dehydration? I forget. Anyway, I finished puking and was wiping my mouth when I noticed Stu coming with his long staff. All I remember thinking was, "Oh no. He's going to make me keep up with him". And he did. And he did. Stu taught me how to plant and run at the same time. Stu whipped my ass into shape. Thanks, man.

I go back to those few days quite often. I was probably the happiest then and maybe the strongest. Either way, I remember details clearly. It is strange. I am scared for the day that I lose those memories. I am terrified I will develop dementia when I am old and grey.

There are lots of days I go back to. I could write a book about days with K on the Block. Eyes meeting in mirrors. Whoa. There is one day with Alfie that I will never forget (I hope). We were both stripped down to our very truest selves that day, planting side by side in a swarm of black flies in this insane piece. It had five secret gardens and a huge dark abyss (think Garden State, but less scary and more lush and sandy). It was like the Secret Garden, times a million. Alfie and I decided to attack a 3K piece together instead of taking 1500 trees each (keeping in mind this was a bit of an ambitious move considering we only had a day to finish it and had only been planting for about 13 days by that point) and planting in the middle of nowhere. When I say the middle of nowhere, I mean the middle of nowhere. You could kill people out there and no one would ever find the body. I'm talking land that has never been treaded by human feet before (a concept that blew my mind on the regular). So there we were, planting along, chattering in our usual rapid fire way when one of us (probably me) piped up with the idea to pretend that we were not planting, but were in fact sitting on the patio at Bar Italia drinking ice cold Hoegaardens. The ones that you have to drink with two hands. So we did. We pretended. We prattled on and on about life and relationships and family and beliefs and art and politics and food and and music and fears and hopes and dreams just the way we would have if we were actually at Bar I. Three hours passed in the blink of an eye and that was the day I learned pace and fluidity. We finished, barely. I doubt we will ever share another day like that again, and I treasure the thought now.

Admission No. 2. I know everyone listened to them in Grade Nine, but I only started listening to Radiohead this summer and it blew my brains in half. Every time I put it on, I felt a little embarassed until I stopped caring enough just to listen and enjoy it. Thom Yorke's voice sounds good early, early in the morning when the dew is still low and heavy and the sun is rising mauve and there are rabbits all over the gravel road. Thom Yorke's voice sounds really good after a fourteen hour day and someone is handing out their leftover purple electrolyte water (sweet water becomes like a drug out there after a long day. For me at least, maybe because I could never be bothered to pack it at 4:30 in the morning) in the bus and there is jazz between your lips with a toque pulled low and you are warm in wool because you ran for the bus just before the fourth rain of the day hit. Radiohead becomes very interesting then. I would listen to Here We Go Magic on Joyce Rd when we were ten clicks from camp. DM Stith was played every single morning as we pulled into the Block. It is devastating music, but I think it was appropriate because seeing the clear cuts for the first time every morning was also devastating. Joanna was played like a best friend when the rain came and it was lightening too hard to do anything except listen to Joanna Newsome while crouching on a log underneath a tarp at the cache, praying you won't get electrocuted. Shit, those were scary moments. Cat Power weaseled her way to the top of my playlist near in the last three weeks of the season. But only tracks from her Jukebox album and nothing else. Whitest Boy Alive was played everyday as we pulled into camp for the day, and then played repeatedly until my boots were off and I was horizontal in my tent.

It only dawned on me a few days ago that the only thing I took in this summer as far as learning/increased intelligence was concerned at tree camp, was music. And I didn't even have my iPod. I had Thom's and while his taste is impeccable, it was still not my iPod. I couldn't write, I couldn't read, I couldn't draw, I couldn't spell, I couldn't color, I couldn't cook, I couldn't multiply, I couldn't imagine, I couldn't do anything except look around and listen and eat Mel's food and work to death and sleep like the dead. That was enough. And that is the reason why I can only handle that lifestyle in doses. It was a completely different style of learning than I had ever experienced before. I encourage it to anyone who is willing to try it. It is so foreign at first. All the things I was used to in the city had no merit out there. No one gave a shit what bike I rode or what length my bangs were, or what books I liked to read, or what type of saddle I coveted, or how clean my bathroom is on the regular. What mattered was nothing more than being true. It was that simple. Who are you at your very barest? That is what you become when thrown into a giant patchwork of personalities who are going through the same withdrawal. There is no such thing as sensory overload in the bush. Another a wild thought.

I trust that the Richards' or the Rags' or the Sulas' or the Erins' in my life will be frank with me and tell me that enough is enough. I will continue to write but not publish another word about my summer as a tree planter. But I must say, there is something exciting about publishing whatever I want on the subject. I find writing on here and posting at my leisure a socially acceptable way to expel appropriate inappropriateness. Please forgive me if I have nauseated any one in the process.


Meet you in Kawaii.

"HEY EVERYBODY" as Mister Kaleb Mihn would yell, two baby new restaurants open today! I happen to work at both of them. My sister happens to run one of them. The parents of two of the most beautiful babies in the city happen to run the other one.

Kawaii Crepe (Kawaii means cute in Cantonese) in the Village. Go! Eat crepes and stare at all the babes who work there. Seriously. There are a lot of disgustingly good looking people on the payroll over there. (Photo cred: Brittany Hildebrandt).

The Albert Diner in the Exchange. Come! Eat! The BBQ tofu burger is back. 9:30-3 open during the week. Drink, listen to good music and look at the pretty babies/babes. Baby Olive and Baby Alice are Albert fixtures these days. I can't believe I get paid to serve there. Come visit soon. Yes? Yes. Nils and Thom designed the menu et al. Enough said.

Come one, come all.

Anne M.

An open letter to Anne M.

Hi girl. This photo of you on Mount Pleasant (or whichever mountain in Kitty's neighborhood) is amazing. I cannot stop looking at it. You are one million miles away, you feel one million miles away, but you look very present and lovely despite the sidelong glance. I have thought of you one million times this week it is ludicrous. Yesterday while cooking up a storm in Erin's crepe kitchen, my mind kept drifting to you over there and I felt your presence beside me while I prepped one million ingredients and got quietly drunk on an empty stomach. You are heavily missed. Today during my first serving shift at The Albert Diner, I thought of you again when the chef slipped some insane rap into the Andrew Bird, Bon Iver and Dodos mix. Sly moves, you would have done the same thing I am sure of this. So to be frank, I am carrying you around town in thought. I wish I could pick you up infant style, toss you over my shoulder and quiet your woes and worries with a simple pat (I think I have been hanging around baby Olive and baby Alice too much), but I cannot. You are a grown woman and so there will be no tossing you over any shoulders. I just wanted to tell you that I love you and I miss you. Enjoy your extra explosion day in the land of Kitty/Falafel and then come home safe. I have been collecting lots of blankets and candles and vinyl for our long awaited evening chez moi. Come home soon. Say hi to your lover, he is a good man.

I love you a shit tonne.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mustached women.

What a woman. Lisa King, craftswoman. She felts mustaches and I wear them with pride. This photo speaks volumes of our friendship I think.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Butter light.

Morning bells. Light poured into my home this morning like a flood of butter and I was nudged awake into the day by a combination of my Grandma's voice and the glorious light. Morning Grandma. That woman is a good woman. Yesterday I told someone (Lisa, I think) that if I would have been born in the thirties, Helen and I would have been the best of friends. That is nice to know. Grandma, thank you for saving my behind this morning. I will not be evicted because of that woman.

Today feels good.

I am thinking of Rags and Gracie's grace and Willy's will and the way their road looked as Rags sailed past it on the train headed for the mountains. I am thinking of heading for the mountains myself and wish I could go with Rags herself. Or maybe it will be the prairies. Or wherever Liza is. My goal at the beginning of this year was to visit my own country as much as possible. We will have to wait and see. At this point, I am going no where fast. That is okay too.

Nothing new to report other than the usual missing of all the usual suspects and the usual joy that comes from the simple waking up in pretty light. Being happy is nice.

Be nice today.

Off to Martha Street to draw at the light table with Jeanette and Drex. Oh, it is officially winter in Winnipeg. Last night I went for a long bicycle ride on the way home from my job. It was late and there was not a vehicle in site. I forgot how much fun winter cycling is. Skid central. I love my Winnipeg.

Adios. Gotta draw.