Thursday, July 29, 2010

Queen Madhavi.

Madhavi--kids art teacher extraordinaire; Winnipeg Folk Festival, 2010.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ronny Rouge and the long lady.

A trip to Puerto Vallarta with Giles; sandpits of Winnipeg, 2010.
My best friend Jill; At the pits, Winnipeg, 2010.
Giles at the Pits; Winnipeg, 2010.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Amethyst calling.

Amethyst has been tailing me for a few weeks now. I first saw it when Mitch started printing with the color and then I started seeing it polished on women's nails as change exchanged hands over the counter at my dumb coffee shop job. Then came the vacation shirts in the same color waltzing in and out of sight and then I saw it in the bricks on my way to work. Purple everywhere. Amethyst calling, indeed. Yesterday Jillian and I were stuffing our paws into a greasy bag filled with dough and cinnamon bun slop when I walked straight into a wall of Amethyst stones in the Forks market upstairs. Maybe eight minutes before this, I was telling her about my strange attraction to this very color. Regardless, it was an interesting experience because I have never been drawn to a stone of any sort. I copied down a few facts about Amethyst in my shortest of hand, all the while freaking out the girl working the counter. Here is what was scratched out in red ink:

Amethyst--- peace, wisdom, intelligence

Symbol- Pisces (Lo)
Plant- Fern
Element- Water
Planet- Neptune
Affirmation- I believe

All good things in my books. Purple is the new black at Casa Smith. Oh yeah, 32 days until we leave. I woke up this morning and Mitch had made a countdown on the giant bulletin board. What a guy. Peace.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lo left me for the Land of Plenty.

Dear Lo,

Why on earth does this remind me so much of you? Strange, non? Anyway, it was a pleasure to see you bobbing along the streets of Winnipeg and downright sad that you had to go so soon. Thanks for hanging out at my bar and talking to my guy while I ground pounds and pounds of coffee for turds at the Forks. A good friend you are. I would have really like to cook a meal for you. Also, you did a perfect job describing the beauty of JJ's home to Mitch and I. Thanks for sealing our deal. I love you. See you soon.

Bisoux, Madge

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Countdown to the Great Migration.

A few days ago while working at Espresso Junction, I slipped downstairs to the Antique shop and found this beauty German-made medium format camera released in the early thirties. A Voigtländer Bessa. Curtis, the guy behind the counter gave it to me for a song because I give him free coffee on the regular. Thanks Curtis, I owe you. Meet the lastest addition to my camera stable.

Anyway, I took it home, did some reading, figured out how to read the aperture, how to load film and release the shutter etc. Today I took her to Don's photo to see if James could help me figure out the trigger (or in very, very humble layman's terms, how to actually shoot the damn thing). He kindly hooked me up with an external trigger cord (no idea what the real name for that device is) and I went home and loaded it up. How exciting! Medium format cameras use 120 film (the negative is almost six times as large at standard 35mm film) and thus one can only shoot 8 exposures per roll in this camera at least (I have no idea about others). The best part about this kind of film is it can be developed using the negative instead of having to take the extra steps to make a contact sheet (a contact sheet is a photo of rows of ones negatives used for easier selection while developing; see below).

It feels nice to be excited about art again. I have felt quite static in my art making these days. Along with the guilt that marches in during these spells, there is humiliation and despair. What are you not making anything? Make something! Do something. These are examples of daily inner thoughts. I wish I would draw more, but something within me is holding out on any and all production right now. In relation to my abilities as a planter, I am all about production but it is quality that slows and often stops me. Same rules apply in art making as they do in planting and in cooking: trust yourself, clean up as you go (thanks Mum for that one), be honest (Cal's voice), do it with flair, and stop apologizing.

I have no clue what art school will be like. The idea of it is terrifying (but the good kind, like the feeling one gets sitting at the crest of a rollercoaster just before you dip headlong into hell [rollercoasters are exciting things]). The doubt in my ability to keep up with my peers has been coming and going for a few months now. It is frustrating and tiring, because I know it is irrelevant. And yet, it presses. I need to stop thinking school it so much because it is eating me alive. I just want to shoot and learn and touch nice fabric and paper and paint, I want to print something HUMUNGEOUS just because I can, I want to learn the hallways and all the places in the school with the best light. I want to read colorful books and touch the looms in the Textile Department when no one is around. I want to print in the dark with my eyes closed, comfortable with the knobs and dials at eye level, set back and sturdy, hidden from sight completely. I want to dip photo paper through chemical baths and do lightening quick math in my head. I want to learn CMYK printing.

I will learn a lot, no doubt about that. How often I will be humbled beyond belief is the question. Bring on the humble pie, I guess. The time is definitely nigh, which is a wonderful feeling. Yesterday I cried and cried into Mitch, tears spilling all over his tattoos and little veins, and he listened. It is so nice to have found someone who I don't have to justify/explain my ticks and my tears. He listens and I feel comfortable as my truest, barest self leaning against him wailing. And that is only one reason in one million why I love him. The thought of leaving my mother and my sister (and everyone of course) brings me to tears every time I think it, or write it (tears currently rolling). Thankfully, the excitement building up to our Great Migration (as I call it in my head) trumps any and all fear, doubt, anxiety by a long shot. We are moving to a new city! Whoa. I have never done that before.

Art making or no art making, I am leaping with all my guts, headlong into the unknown. It is Year of the Tiger after all. When Mitch and I were carrying our groceries home down Assiniboine yesterday, I realized that in one months time I will have no idea what is in store beyond the present date. Right now I have a pretty solid handle on life because all I have been doing is working. No complaints other than the usual suspects, but there is definitely structure in the many numbers, dates, short orders, shifts, appointments, and responsibilities to others that are weighing me down in the here and now. It is pretty predictable at Casa Smith these days. M and I are lucky if we get to share a meal these days.

On that topic, yesterday we did share a meal that Mitch cooked and it was incredible food!!!!! I had just finished a long day cooking at Black Sheep and he sent me out of the kitchen and on to the bed until it was time to eat. Whoa, bless bless bless summer vegetable cooking. I wish I had a picture of said meal, but I do not. Picture this in your mind and lick your chops: roasted garlic, shallots, cherry tomatoes, quartered mushrooms, asparagus spears tossed with lightly oiled angel hair pasta and garnished with flat leafed Italian parsley and parmesan. Oh my darlin, oh my darlin.....

Peace, there are leftovers calling my name.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Roosting in Chinese laundry.

I was just about to unlock to the door to leave, but then I swerved around the empty boxes blocking the door at the last moment and wove back around to my computer with the belt on my coat flying. Here I am, back. Away from the boxed door. Yikes the boxes have begun. That means there another move just around the corner. This will be the fourth time I have moved the contents of my once-home between two points, one direction or another. Then one more move in Montreal and then I plan on SITTIN' PRETTY FOR A WHILE. Mark my words. Roosting time is welcomed.

I am excited at the thought of a new home with Mitch. We crashed all of our things into this tiny home that we are soon to leave, and made it really nice (thank goodness it was all white). I am looking forward to starting again, this time more thoughtfully, together. Although, I will be sad to leave my red geraniums behind. I will be sad to sift through all of the things I have collected and say "no" to ninety percent of them. Zach and Mel's three mexican sisters are coming with. I started with all the tiny papers I have collected throughout the year (August to August) and dating them, meandering in thought as I went, Cat Power singing about New York in the soft back. (The probability of watching Cat Power in New York is soon to be much higher than it were living in Winnipeg). It was nice. Papers are done.

Now it is time to sift through the art. Acquaintances of mine and Mitch's are having a Sympathy Art Sale in a few weeks (they are moving too) which I thought was quite brilliant. Not the sympathy part, but the art sale part. We don't need sympathy, we need cash. With that said, we are going to have an art sale too. Besides, it is high time our family and friends see the work this guy is putting out! Whoa, my man! Exciting art times at Casa Smith. Our art sale will be before Erin's wedding in the middle of August some time. Keep close for more.

Lo is in town! Whoa, that thought is NUTTY. I love Lo, my dear, passionate, strong , hilarious friend. The other night we met each other outside of the Sandbox party (after being rejected at all entrances, thanks) and had our own party with Ginger outside the fence. Good women.

Gotta get into the rain to get a million rolls of film developed (time spanning from middle of June until today).

Time is flying.

Liza, I am still working on your letter.
Lisa, I miss you girl. Can I book a haircut appointment in the Sasshole chair?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Shitty eggs.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to make the water taste like the sea.

I have been cooking a lot lately. It is all I want to do. In these last few weeks since returning home, I have been enjoy my summer holiday to its fullest. I spent some time in my ma's garden yesterday snipping the tiniest basil and the most broad-chested flat leaf Parsley I have ever seen. Inhaling, stuffing my bounty into a bag. Peas!!!!!! I love peas. Beet leaves for soup or salads or steamed with kale, summer savory, chives in their crisp splendor. This is the second time I have felt guilty for taking this time (post bush), but I do it anyway with a smile upon my face. My work ethic is assssssss dragging these days. I know this, and keep smiling. It'll come back, it always does.

Anyway, back to the kitchen. This is how I am spending my spare time these days, cooking and cruising the internet for recipes and then grocery shopping even though I don't have the cash to do it often (smiling), and then coming home, putting on some music, or getting Mitch to pick and then starting to coooooooooooooooooook while he draws at the table. His drawings and the smells from my food compliment each other well.

And the music. I have been really into Woods. Their album "At Echo Lake" has been on repeat for the last few days. I listen to music kind of how I wear clothes. Cycling through the goods, repeating it until it is beat like a horse and then onto the next (save for the classics; because classics are simply what they are: classics) like no time has past at all. It is kind of how I remember periods of my life sometimes because these standouts are usually pinpricked with a certain look, or a certain sound, or sometimes both at the same time.

Lately I have been wearing this nuts wide legged jean (real wide) look paired with an interesting sports bra underneath the thinnest grey Nova Scotia shirt of all time (stolen without permission as per from my good sister's nuts closet--thanks, I owe you) with getting long hair flying out from yet another train hat (the latest one is tiny and made by VIA rail and fits perfectly [I have a child's skull]lucky number 3) with purple foam sandals that were a tree camp send off gift from Jillian (purchased from Stupid Store) and headphones sitting on top of all of those things attached to the sounds of Woods or Laura Veirs singing in my ears. That is my position on fashion and music these days.


My favorite cooking blog is Smitten Kitchen run by this interesting lady with the prettiest baby boy I have ever seen. I don't know that much about them but her food photography is clean and delicious and the recipes make sense but also leave plenty of room for personal flair. Most importantly, the food always tastes good.

Grocery shopping in Winnipeg is expensive. Ridiculously expensive. A bag of sugar for fourteen dollars at a rural Manitoba grocery. 6.93 for asparagus at IGA Downtown (yikes). To shop economically in this town, one (namely, the shopper) must know prices across the city. Bulk vs. local. Organic, vegan, soy and gluten free products are ridiculously priced. And yet, I like to cook well and will often choose organic milk and eggs over the less expensive item. Does that mean I have expensive taste or just a healthy appetite? I can't believe that some people I know scoff at spending hard earned money on a healthier, locally made product (that hasn't been showered with chemicals or stuffed with ground death). Call me a hippy, fine. I just like to eat really good, simple food. It's too bad we don't have a Whole Foods in this CITY. (Too much Top Chef, Margot).

That was a rant I think. I got in a huff, pardon me. But seriously, we should talk about the food we eat. Don't buy shitty eggs, bottom line.

Here are some photos from my summer in the woods taken by Pat Ware. Below is a picture of myself driving one of the PRT quads loaded with pine trees, one long bus ride away from Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Best part of my summer: quad girl.

Quad girl; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Below. This is was the day I almost died in Bram's truck. He has a little tugboat of a truck that I fell in love with. Before the day this photo was taken, I had never hauled anything behind a vehicle (nevermind a manual vehicle). Hard but valuable lessons in driving were learned this day. I swept out most of the anxiousness.
Sweeping off a near-death experience; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
The day I nearly died hauling that beast on the Trans Canada Highway; Kenora, Ontario, 2010.
Here is the one and only picture I have of myself actually planting trees, taken by my dear friend Edwerd on a day we shared a tree cache. Thanks man. I also remember him giving me a Skor bar this day and I almost shat myself with joy.

Planting in stripes; Kenora, Ontario, 2010.

This is a picture of MJ, myself and Kim in the back of King of the Road after an incredible shitty contract in a burn block north of Sioux Lookout.

MJ, Meg and Kim (clean) in King of the Road; Kenora, Ontario, 2010.

This is a photo of me recording my daily numbers into my log book. Above photos by the lovely Maya Anders, my girl in the bush.

Recording tree numbers; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.

This is a photo of my best bush friend Pat Ware and I at the mustering point in Burma Block. He looks sad and I was trying to cheer his spirits by being a turd. This looks like the end of the day when we Hurry up and WAIIIIIIT at the busses in order to get the fuck out of the Block.

Cheering up Pat; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.

On the bus heading home from a day off in town. I picked up some fresh basil for the cook. We ate so well!

Fresh basil for the cook; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Last but definitely not least, below is a photograph of my very best friend in the bush, Eddy Kuruliouk and I on Ripper night in Sioux. What a man.

Eddy and Meg on the Ripper; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.

Off to read in the park before work. Liza, I am carrying your letters around and writing new ones.

Friday, July 9, 2010

High ceilings.

Images stolen from somewhere sans permission, as per. Yes please, to naming this as my own.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Oh her royal Madgesty, how telling of your current state of mind; standing there in the brightest part of the afternoon light in your neon leopard shorts. Billabong. Slats of hardwood shadows climbing up the legs. Hello, it is summer in the city. Refrigerated water is the beverage of choice. Grapefruit, or a cold peach? Peach, obviously. Peach with cherries on top of strawberry yogurt as well as five miniature chocolate chip cookies. Today after a short window spent at home with my guy during the middle his work day, I walked all the way to Mitchell's Fabric in the north end to get serious about making some canvas bags.

Some chick with a beard and a serious seamstress repertoire helped me out as Ronny Rouge trailed me like a hound off on her own hunt. Picture a lean dachshund in a Lacoste polo dress (in the best shade of pink you have ever seen) and running shoes on the loose in the silks. (Yesterday it was swimming in Puerto Vallarta waters tucked in the middle of nowhere, Manitoba). Today, fabric shopping. Tomorrow, god only knows. Oh Ronny, what a friend I have found in you.

FYI, the cherries are delicious when dragged through the plate of yogurt.

There is nothing to report or even muse upon as my days have been easy. Summer holidaze, as cliche as that is, is my current position. I am cooking and eating and shooting (sometimes) and swimming and cycling and walking. That is it, that is all.

Liza, your package sailed into my arms yesterday morning as I was in the throes of scrubbing an entire bottle of CORAL ME FUCKING WILD out of the bathtub, elbow deep in strong chemical. You came and hauled me out of that haze and I sat on my summer bed (I have recently made the switch from winter duvet to summer quilt. How divine, I recommend it if you are not already underneath one) with legs tucked away and read. And read. And read. And read some more until I had swallowed every last word like a stack of fruit. Delicious read, my friend. Your paper literally choked me. I have not been choked by reading in years and I knew the moment I sucked back and choked on my own air that you were getting even better as a writer and as a student. Fuck this Fall-time academia fear you speak of, you have been a student this entire time. I have been coming to terms with this side of myself since being in and now home from the bush. Constant reminders of student status. I know the exact place in Sioux Lookout, Ontario where I stood in the middle of an aerially seeded burn block the day I realized there was no need to beat myself for the things I had yet to learn. Just because we are university late bloomers (well, you have been building skills since day one) does not mean we haven't been busy in other avenues.

Oh welcomed business. I seem to forever be on the prowl for quick cash. Hours are spent scheming until Mitch kindly reminds me of how people do things in reality. Upon hearing this I somehow climb back down that rope ladder of my imagination and get real. Thanks beauty, I love you for that too. Anyway, then came the canvas bags marching in. Mitch prints, I sew. Or something, who knows. Regardless, Mitch has been making some incredible things these days. He comes home with fresh prints in his bag after only a few hours spent at the studio and shows me these amazing pieces based off of drawings he was casually working on the night before at the table. This guy! Watching someone learn something is unbelievable. Before I left for the bush, he was just beginning to draw, doodle on things, make small faces on cardstock lying around the apartment. When I came home a month and a half later, there were hundreds of prints lying in stacks all over. It was a crazy thing to walk into. Such pride, like a mother but younger and different.

Things are sailing along in true July fashion. A few days ago I noticed that M had written 7 weeks until MTL on the chalkboard in the kitchen (invest, people). Seven weeks, erring on the six side of things. These are all of the things up in the air (I loathe the air at times) at the moment: home situation, school things, how to get there, how to send our shit, how much shit we can bring, how much shit we should bring. There are some decisions to be made and (thank goodness for patient men) all I want to be doing at the moment is walking around outside. Could be worse. It could always be worse, says Papa Cal. Right-o. Things are moving along. Seven weeks.

Liza, bless you for the mail. I'll whip something up that will pale in comparison. You are a writer. You have always been a writer. Good job. Good job everybody for being real.

Margot Polo

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Waste not, want not.


Waste not, want not. Again. A title I have used before for another post from another time in my life. It is an adage I come back to over and over (even though I waste time and time again), maybe because it reminds me of my grandma Kroeker. I have no idea if she even said it, probably, but I attach it strongly to her. Her fabric shears come with me where ever I go, and stay razor sharp even as the years since they first came, pass. Sometimes I forget all about her, this tiny woman named Annie, my dad's mother. She was around growing up, it wasn't like I never saw her. She frightened me a little, if anything. But I also loved her fiercely and respected the way she kept the things that made sense (most of the time, from what I remember) and the way moved, quick as light. That woman worked. Go Annie go. She liked to garden and had a way with plants. Lately, I have been drawn to flowers and gardens in this city like a bee to the hive. I think of her then. Not sure where this is coming from, but a grandmother shout out (dead or alive) is nothing new around these parts. Gr. Annie, respect.

Moving on.

It is unquestionably summer. That fact became quite factual last night near four in the morning while Mitch and I walked a sad lap around the block in the wet heat waiting for the fire trucks to clear from our front door and the Listener from the second floor to go back to bed along with the rest of us. I was half asleep anyway and was surprised how the groggy details stayed with me today, and replayed themselves as I worked my second shift in yet another hot kitchen (a really good one).

Just before said lap, we were asleep under a sheet with yellow stripes. A siren went off and woke us; but not the same kind of siren one would expect to beckon other sirens in the dead of the night. It was two sounds all at once; a startling hi and a disturbing low wrapped around each other in pitch, like a droning coil of rope. The kind of drone that made sense after five, maybe three minutes of confusion. When Mitch said the word, "fire" in the middle of a string of other words I wasn't able to catch, our quiet but urgent search for passports, cameras and pants ensued. After that, Mitch steered a half sleeping Megan down three flights of stairs and outside into the heat. Then the worried/confused/semi-conscious stroll around the neighborhood began when really, we should have been twitching in our separate sleeps all along.

Regardless, there was no fire. But there was a good lesson: know where your (important) shit is. Set one's priorities (god only knows what set in motion said chain of events last night, but it was still a good lesson). The closer we drew to Point B, and the further away we walked from where we first began, the easier I was with the idea of not having to pack a damn thing for Montreal. "It is only stuff", said the handsome man who hauled the kerfluffled little woman down the grey stairs. "I know", le sigh.

Interesting night, at the least.

And then I slept through my alarm because SLEEP IS IMPORTANT (under the S section on our chalkboard). How I am able to maintain a job at times is a mystery. I was an hour late (on my second shift, shit!) and my boss was firm lipped, but gracious (I cleaned the fridge as penance in between buttering toast and mincing garlic). This kitchen job? What a job so far. Definitely one of the most challenging I have had in quite some time (save for bad and or swamp planting days), I like it a lot. This kitchen is tucked away inside the back of the Black Sheep Diner on the corner of Ellice and Langside. We have an interesting clientele. Today we served every one from students to babies to complaining hippies to happy hippies to hipsters to grandmothers to tea parties to strict vegans to pastors to that guy who burst in at close with a sticker on his nose while us four women ate a meal together in our aprons. "I'm looking for fries". We were closed and we don't serve fries. We sent him to the Albert Street Diner. They have fries there.

It is a sparse kitchen but well planned considering the amount of space. There are two skinny work stations (that make sense; the kitchen was clearly planned by a person who understood food service) and two sinks. There is a flat top (a piece of kitchen equipment that is completely foreign to me) under a speaker that plays whatever Naomi is in the mood for (today it was Tool and the 'Wild at Heart' soundtrack, go figure) and a large fridge filled with only things that are necessary. Well planned, no waste. Angela cooks and I prep. Usually in the last hour or two of my shift, she will announce that it is time for me to take over the flat top. Okay, holy shit. I didn't know how to make an omelet until a few days ago. She, whose resemblance to Charlotte Gainsbourg is uncanny, taught me how to poach eggs last week. Today it was pancakes. Thanks Ang. On my first day, she turned to me while I was standing in front of the stove wielding the short metal grease scraper (awkwardly) in my left hand and the long metal spatula/lifter (awkwardly) in my right, and said, "Megan, the eggs can tell when you're nervous". All this while I was busy mutilating my over easies nervously. Still working on it. I like it.

Anyway, it is a great little restaurant with warm service that makes honest food for nice people. Bringing out the garbage today, again I couldn't believe how little waste there was (in comparison to other kitchens I have worked in) and it was a nice reminder to buy and cook only what is necessary. People eat the food they order there. That that is a novelty is a shame.

There are lots of things going on at the moment as days ease themselves away from the one before. We are really moving, and it is starting to settle in. Erin is getting married to Derek. Andrea is home to a baby. Sula is moving to Berlin. Mitch is kind and patient as the day is long and I am happiest in my home or in this new kitchen or riding my bike or looking at flowers. But most of all, I am so glad we are going together.

Enjoy your summer.

Margot Polo