Merry Christmas! (and the mystery is solved)

December 24, 2009

Here’s what I was up to on the office carpet the other day…

Merry Christmas to all my dear readers! It’s a true pleasure writing for you and I hope to see you all in the new year. Have a wonderful holiday season with lots of Family, Food and Festiveness!

Note: You’ll notice I’m wearing a different hat in the photo above… a long and complicated story. But what’s important is that the Christmas cards I sent out (featuring a composite of two of the most successfully angled images) turned out to be a great solution to this year’s dilemma: “how to rebel against my tradition of making handmade cards by making a handmade card” – gotta love technology! 


The closest I’ve ever come to killing a man

December 10, 2009

I’d just taken off my glasses when I spotted a strange black, spindly looking speck on the middle of my bed. In one swift, automatic motion, like one of those robotic arms at GM checking a tail light, I squinted and leaned down for a closer look.

I remember that fateful day in grade six when I first discovered I needed glasses. My friend and I were running for the bus. “What number is it?” he hollered over his shoulder. I couldn’t tell him. I knew from the look he gave me after he’d turned to check for himself, that from that moment on the only 20/20s I’d be seeing would be quiz scores. Hey, we nerds have had to compensate somehow. It’s no coincidence grades and glasses go together. You wouldn’t believe how high my marks were the year I got braces!

As my nose came closer and closer to the comforter, I thought of how many times I’ve come face to face with that eternal question… dust? Or spider?  I must say though, despite all those jerk-back-and-scream moments, there’s a certain amount of empathy those of us with four eyes can’t help but feel for those poor souls cursed with eight. But, sometimes that’s not enough to protect them when the situation becomes a clear case of ‘it’ or ‘me’.

I was over at a high school boyfriend’s house in grade eleven. Even though his parents were home (nothin’ to worry about Mom), it somehow fell to me to deal with the teeny arachnid lurking over their second floor landing. I vacuumed it up with the duster extension while my boyfriend cringed behind me. I decided to have a little fun with him (not that kind Mom).

“See,” I said, swinging the nozzle round to within inches of his face, “it’s right here!”

With a wild shriek, he flung himself backwards down the stairs.

Thankfully, the stairs were carpeted. Even more thankfully, he somehow caught hold of the railing – while upside down! – half a second before his head slammed into the ground. Still, to this day, it’s as close as I’ve ever come to killing a man.

The speck on my bed turned out to be a tiny mess of thread. I flicked it into the corner, where it now lies in wait to freak me out another day. Though luckily, now I have backup.

How to capture a personality in a portrait

July 3, 2009

The two portraits below are of the same subject. The first uses setting, composition, and lighting to convey the subject’s personality. She is a quirky artistic type with hippie, as opposed to hipster, sensibilities and a great, snarky sense of humor. Photography is an excellent medium for portraiture because the subject can be directly involved in communicating how she/he sees herself/himself to the world. However, as in personality testing, this can also be a limitation. Honesty can easily become clouded by preconception.

The second portrait is a drawing of the same subject dancing. It was executed quickly, solely from memory. Both she and I were startled by the resulting resemblance. “Creepy,” she called it. And yes, the attitude and posture was eerily spot on. It’s a big risk to allow yourself to be seen through someone else’s eyes, and the results may surprise you, creepy or not. I invite you to try this exercise with someone you know. In our age of careful personal branding, there is an urgent need for the honesty of a pen, some colouring pencils, and a personal connection only art can prove.

Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words...

Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words…

...and sometimes a drawing can say a million more

…and sometimes a drawing can say so many more

Dancing our way into history at Calgary’s Greek Festival

June 24, 2009
Greek Dance Troop Kyklos from Edmonton takes the stage

Edmonton dance troop Kyklos takes the stage

Greek culture is a celebration of tradition and family, with a history rich in art, food, and – as three blonds discovered at Calgary’s Greek Festival – lively dancing. Of our three family trees, mine has come the closest to Grecian soil, but that’s only by way of my step-mother’s ex-husband. Needless to say, we’ve never been invited to any family reunions. We’re always up for a party though, and as we quickly discovered, going Greek guarantees a great time!

Greek Festival LogoThis year’s Festival was attended by thousands and took place under a giant white tent in SouthWest Calgary, next to the Hellenic Community Center. The late June air was filled with the wonderful smells of honey drenched pastries and spit roasted lamb. I can still taste the sweet warmth of the Loukoumades on my tongue when I close my eyes – and yes, they’re just as sensational as their name. After a delicious meal, we took our seats third row from the stage, having no idea we were to become stars of the show!

Click Here to read the full, unspeakably embarrassing story of what happened next…


Risking it all atop the Calgary Tower

February 11, 2009

There’s a switch in the cloakroom – forty-five minutes one way, sixty the other. “Is that where you control how fast it goes around?” I ask the pretty hostess.

She nods. “We speed it up at lunch,” she says, “because people have less time.”

I can’t believe the power she has, and here I’d been wasting my time envying her pin-straight, white blond hair. I fight the urge to try the switch. Imagine, one quick flick and somewhere deep inside the tower, giant gears are thrown into motion – diesel? Electric? How do you turn a building? The hostess shrugs it off. But what’s the power over one floor, when, with her hair, she walks out and the city turns to her.

I want a taste of it, and my friend and I have a window seat, so I lean down and pull the grey metal sill slowly round, hauling us hand over hand around the circumference. My friend laughs. I guess that’s why she’s my friend. I’m on top of Calgary, watching a panning shot of New York. Cities are all the same at night, each window a separate distant sun. People from the country say there aren’t any stars in the city. Sure there are, but it helps if you look at it upside down.

My friend orders mussels from PEI. I order the carpaccio. This is a night of firsts, and raw red meat is as daring as they’ll let me get in this conservative town. When our plates arrive, I’m overwhelmed by the sweet buttery scent of my friend’s dish. The heaping pile of black mussels are shining in a pool of pale, summer yellow sauce. The carpaccio? How can a plate of thinly sliced, overly salted, strips of raw meat compare to the vision across the table. Here I am jealous all over again.

“Do you want to try one?” my friend asks, when she sees me eyeing her meal. “They’re so good, slimy, but a good kind of slimy.”

My carpaccio is a bad kind of slimy, and utterly, disappointingly, safe, while the mussels are so irresistibly dangerous. You see, I’m allergic to other shellfish, but, I’ve never actually tried mussels. She would let me if I asked, and the temptation takes all the flavour and fun out of my raw meat. I’m chewing on rubbery slivers of what had sounded so exotic just minutes before. All I can think about is how easily one of my friend’s fleshy nuggets would slide down my throat. Can you have an allergic reaction from your stomach? When would it set in? Would there still be time?

“I’m allergic,” I confess, knowing how easy it would be to lie. But how many of us have it in them to throw it all away?

“But,” I say, “can I dip my bread in your sauce?”

Might as well save myself for dessert.

(Image source)