Aside

Take a walk and call me in the morning…

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Sometimes I believe I know things; I’m known and what I say has weight,  my words can be included – they have merit. Other times, like today, I believe the value of my words is almost entirely dependent on whether my audience deems them worthy. That’s not blog speak; that’s life speak. I’ve been reminded this weekend that it doesn’t take much to silence me. That surprises me…  that it is sometimes dead easy to make me simply shhhhhh. To stop talking. To lose confidence in my own voice.

That sucks.

I felt that today…badly. But then, I took a walk in nature… a hike. I walked with a good friend along a ridge overlooking an achingly beautiful river bend; swans below, ravens and eagles just overhead and magpies calling from the trees. Ha. No silence there… no silence outside or inside of me. I am thankful for the walk, for the insane beauty all around me, for the snowless ground and the startling gift of a few extra days of autumn sunshine in the Yukon.

I came back calmer, more peaceful… confidence in my voice restored. Perspective; it’s out there, thank goodness. Sometimes you just need to take a walk to find it.

Dear Young Woman:

oh dear

You are so beautiful. You are young, shiny – filled with collagen and elastin and other things that make me envious. You have a future, a spark, and more opportunity than any generation of women in the history of everything. You’re really the first girls ever for whom just about anything is truly possible. You can go to the moon, you can stay home and raise a house full of kids,  you can do both.. it’s up to you.

So while I am sure you are going after those things, planning them and making goals and figuring out your path, I have a couple of questions for you. Don’t take these the wrong way (as if I know what the right way is)… I don’t want to offend you or sound as old as I’m sure I do, but I don’t get it.

Why do you dance like that? Like a stripper… you know what I mean. Dancing, all by itself, is just so naturally sexy and free and open, who told you you had to do a lap dance on the floor? When you go up on the dance floor with your friends, why do you all look like you’re auditioning for a porn flick or a strip club? Seriously, I’m not trying to be an old bitch but the front row is usually expected to come armed with small bills for that kind of performance, and there’s generally a cover charge.

Those pictures of you on Facebook and Instagram … the sexy booty pics in the bathroom, you know the ones – you in your bikini or little tank top sulking and making duck lips with the toilet in the background. What’s that about? Or the drunk ones..the ones with your hands on your best friend’s boobs and your tongues touching. Why? Are you gay? Are you experimenting with your sexuality and want to showcase it to the world? Or are you really just trying to look hot, ’cause guys think girls making out is really hot? If you’re coming out via Facebook pics, power to you. If you’re trying to look hot… seriously, why?

I think sex is great. I think being sexy and celebrating your sexuality is great. I don’t want to shame you or blame you or tell you you can’t go out of the house dressed like THAT, young lady!  I just don’t understand who it’s for, all those moves and those pictures, and all that.  Does that stuff make you feel empowered? Maybe owning your sexuality in that way makes you feel strong, in charge. If that’s why, that makes sense to me somehow. But is it really that, or is it just because that’s the crap that’s been poured into your brain by Much Music, by all the ho’s and biotches in the games, videos and movies you’ve seen.  I worry “that’s what sexy looks like” to you and presumably, the guys.   I’m more afraid you’ve been convinced it’s how you’ve got to look rather than out of a sense of freedom and control.

When I was a little girl, my influences were pretty tame; Barbie, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Cher.  You girls catapulted straight from Barbies to Britney, Bitch. The world changed shape around the time you were all what…. 13, 14?  Suddenly everybody was texting, Facebook was a thing,  and before the world knew what had happened, we were underwater.  Everything shifted shape.

I guess I’d like to know why… honestly. I guess I’d like to believe that, if any part of my concern or questions ring true to you, you might think about that. I would love it if, the next time you run out onto the dance floor with a bunch of friends you dance for the joy of moving your body to music you love… to HELL with whoever might be hooting from the cheap seats.

I think you’re beautiful when you dance like a regular person. I think your photos are gorgeous when you laugh and look like a dork in them. I celebrate your normal, beautiful, sexy self.

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Twisted Designs Fall 2013

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Gorgeous fall colours in these luscious glass beads. Orange, white, yellow, and browns swirl together to make something truly unique and wonderful. The beads are on handmade copper pins and hang from beautiful hammered copper hooks, shaped by me and tumbled for strength and shine. These are really cool…

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These are so much fun. Lovely little faceted dyed jade beads in a delicious bright pink wrapped with sterling silver, dangling from my handmade sterling silver ear hooks. Dainty and small (about 1 inch total length these are great for bopping around in for yourself or would make a great gift for a young lady just itching for her first dangly earrings. Light weight and cheerful… you’ll love them.

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Words. Inside.

ImageWhat can I possibly write? I have words smashing around in my mind, in my chest, words that will hit the page like hammer blows, like tears falling. I have words trapped and seeking, and I can’t provide their freedom.

I have no place to put these thoughts – these words – this volcano –  that will not harm. There is no place to set this burden down. I will cause pain, no matter where I try to take ease.

If you see me, realize you are seeing what you expect to see… in the way the proofreader skips over spelling errors and jarring mistakes, seeing only what the brain predicts. 

That sound you hear when we pass is effort…those words want out.

Body Armor and Good Shoes

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Today I am dressed for work. Really dressed for work; black pencil skirt, lovely drapey blouse, suit jacket, neutral pumps (understated and professional with a good dash of sexy). My hair is short and styled, my makeup is appropriate and my accessories complement without distracting. Pearls, actually.

If you look a bit closer at the outfit, the shoes, the hair and the look you’ll see the hidden rivets. The seams where the metal  of the breastplate meets the tasset show the dents of the club hammer and the effort that went into its construction. Those good shoes… they’re really a modern sabaton; protection, baby.

Don’t think for a moment that I woke up this morning and decided to dress like this because heels feel awesome, because I love panty-hose. These earrings were chosen mindfully and the necklace too. My clothes are my armor.

There are things in my life right now that demand my full attention. My energy has to be rationed and my strength shored up. I am not up to the challenge in jeans and a t -shirt; I need something external to let me know I can handle what I must handle. I need to look in the mirror and see someone who is competent, strong, determined and certain. At the moment I’m none of those things, so for that, I need a disguise. I need a costume. I need armor.

A friend observed that often when women separate from their partners they begin to dress better than they used to. He seemed to believe it to be a peacock preening kind of thing; a desire to strut, to appear attractive. I’m offering another possible explanation; it’s fear. It’s fear, dressed up to look like courage. It’s armor.

Look at me… I look great. I look strong. I look like I know what I’m doing.

I’m a jelly fish. A jelly fish in really good shoes.

So soon?

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A few weeks ago I gave birth to a magical little redheaded baby girl. She’s 20 now, but that is the way the heart massages time…the real passage is hard to measure in ordinary terms. To my arms, the weight of her baby self is still a recent memory, there is still an ache in my shoulders from pacing with her while she cried of colic. I still hum the only song that calmed her, and when I am stressed I remember how the sound of the vacuum was the only thing that soothed her mysterious fretting.

I left her in another city the other day, this baby child of mine. I left her in her own apartment surrounded with the trappings of a new life. No diaper pail, no stuffed rabbits or pastel blankies; instead pots & pans, thrift store dishes and school supplies clutter the space.

She is ready. She is ready to take on the world and be a shining beacon of newness, of hope and promise. She has the confidence, the kindness, the grit and the guts to tackle this new chapter. She is, after a few years of holding my breath, everything I knew she would be. I am the kind of proud there are no words for.

But I am now 5,385 kilometers from her forehead… the forehead I like to kiss goodnight. And it turns out I am less ready than she.

Gratitude, Joy and Land Sickness

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Last weekend I swam naked in the inky sea at midnight under a billion stars. The sea was filled with the magic that makes phosphorescence… I became a glow stick. A giggling, swirling, giddy glow stick. If I raised my hand out of the water, a thousand stars trickled down my fingers and arm back into the glittery sparkly sea. It was magic. Pure magic.

I spent three days with friends who exist entirely outside of my normal life. They have never been to my home, never met my family, my husband. They’ve never seen me in my space, my comfort zone. They don’t know my work, my reputation, my art, nothing outside what I have told them. They know only the me that exists when I am away from my responsibilities and the weight of expectation.  They like me, and I like them. Interestingly, I have never seen them in their day to day either. They live in another city and we met through mutual friends. Every time we’ve visited it’s been an event outside of the ordinary, and that’s amazing and freeing.

I am not one to swim naked at midnight under any kind of sky, as a rule. I’m also not one to sit for three days on the bow of a sailboat imagining a life quite different from the one I have. I am rarely still…I am rarely aware enough to notice things like the wonder of phosphorescence… like the frequent passage of satellites overhead.

I want to be someone who swims naked. I want to be someone who lays back on the deck of a boat and gazes upward. I want more time to gaze…

As with anything else, if you want change, you’ve gotta step up and make change. It’s in the wind… change.

If you find phosphorescence in your life… anywhere, I recommend jumping in. Naked. And if you feel a bit land sick when you come ashore, well that’s a small price to pay, don’t you agree?

Beer from Heaven

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The wilderness of the Northwest Territories is an unusual honeymoon destination, but that’s where my new husband and I headed when we were married 21 years ago. Our courtship had included a wilderness river canoe trip on the Beaulieu River and we returned there after the wedding.  The 7 day trip was a major feat of planning, requiring a float plane to get us in and another to get us out. Packing required military discipline…nothing extraneous, nothing heavy. This was important as our first day had something like 13 portages (oh bliss).

Bug spray was the top of the list as far as liquids in our luggage; we carried a small flask of Grand Marnier and a 6 pack of beer to begin the trip. After it was gone, we were drinking river water. Period. Our wedding was early July, and even in Canada’s north the days get pretty hot… after those river chilled beer were emptied and the cans crushed and packed…. well, you can imagine how good they tasted in retrospect.

We were paddling down a fairly narrow stretch of river, about the width of a secondary highway.  In the middle of the river about a kilometre away was a small island, preceded by a few large rocks -each about the size of a small car, emerging from the water.  The nearest of these large rocks was taller than it was wide;  pointing up at the sky from the icy river  with a small, flat ledge on top.

And now, picture us for a moment… sun baked, about the 4th day of our trip, hot and paddling in our swimsuits.

As we approached the first rock…. we both blinked, shook our heads, looked at each other and back at the rock. Incredulous, eyes bugging in disbelief, a giggle bubbled out of first me, then him. Not a word of a lie… perched as if waiting for us atop the rock… a six pack of Labatts Blue. How the hell?! Was it a mirage? Were we hallucinating?  Was it beaver fever?! As we got closer we could see it was indeed a six pack of beer, and amazingly it still had the plastic rings holding it together. What?!!

We paddled a lot faster, suddenly… pulling up alongside this rock; Tim leaped from the canoe and scrambled up to the shimmering, gleaming prize balanced at its pinnacle. He looked at it and hollered OH MAN! The cans aren’t even OPENED!!!

This was heaven…this was manna from heaven! He reached out, grabbed the six pack and lifted it triumphantly overhead, letting out a loud bark of surprised laughter. I laughed along with him… even more when water started pouring from the thousands of tiny puncture holes all over each of the cans.

Unopened, they had obviously gone overboard when some previous paddlers dumped. Battered by the rocks their golden contents had long since been replaced by… river water.

Although  unsure who had placed the trophy on its perch to tempt and torment us, we were not about to mess with success.  When we stopped laughing, Tim carefully replaced the cans where he had found them, high above the water, ready to glint in the sunlight and play siren to the next paddlers to come down river.

I mean really…. wouldn’t you have done the same?

I think I can’t…I know I CAN!

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It’s great when you’re good at something; when you can just sort of wave your hand and things turn out magically wonderful. There is probably a degree of satisfaction in that, in being… well, good.  It’s freaking AMAZING when you’re no good at something but you keep doing it anyway. When you just keep smashing your head bloody-mindedly against your lack of skill, persevering, swearing, starting over and just doing it anyway.

Until. Until somehow, suddenly, unbelievably, you can. You can actually do the thing you couldn’t. What was impossible, frustratingly impossible is actually possible. And eventually, easy. Or at least do-able.

When that happens, it’s a different kind of pride. It’s a different sort of satisfaction than when you do something that’s no big deal. It feels good, it feels GREAT to do something you never dreamed you could actually do.

I’ve been working in my jewellery studio (also known as the spare bedroom where things with no home go to die). I’ve been working on new techniques; soldering, working with my torch and solder paste, sheet solder, bits and pieces and angles and fire and smoke and butane and mapp gas (I hope my insurance guy isn’t reading this…).

And I love it. I even love that I can’t remember a damn thing I learned 22 years ago when I took a silver smithing course. I am literally teaching myself as I go, with the occasional help of YouTube and the kind folks out there who share their wisdom.

I love doing. I love learning and doing. It’s a powerful rush for me to accomplish something, even something small. I do measure my days by jobs done & tasks accomplished. A day like today when I have actually accomplished something difficult, something new, something that makes me proud…that’s a very very good day.

And actually, I think the swearing helps the process. Really!

Found at the side of the road…

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I spend a fair bit of time walking, running, cycling the roads and trails of the Yukon. I have a mental gallery of images of  the sometimes bizarre items I’ve seen abandoned roadside… shoes of course, but clothes, underwear, tools and more. Expand the “roadside” idea further and we’ve found a saw in a tree during a shore lunch, a six pack of beer perched perfectly atop a rock in the middle of a wilderness river and so on.

The find that prompted me to finally do something about creating a place for all this weird random lost stuff was recent. I walked from my office to Starbucks for an afternoon coffee in June and saw, lying sadly in the gravel at my feet, broken dentures. Two pieces of eery pink plastic and chiclet teeth laying there, never again to fulfill their purpose. That’s a find I chose to leave where it lay…

So I’ve created a Facebook page entitled Found at the Side of the Road. It’s intended as a gallery of images and stories of these sometimes inexplicable finds. If you have a photo I invite you to share it. If you don’t know the story I welcome you to make one up…it might be fun.

If you don’t have a photo please, tell us the story anyway. I’ve got a great story about that six-pack of beer on the rock that I’ll tell you someday. I hope you’ll come on over and share.

And maybe someday I’ll fulfill a crazy personal dream I’ve had for a long time; a curated exhibit of single shoes found roadside…. hahahaha! Maybe I can get a Canada Council art grant… maybe lost soles can be reuinited at last!

Come on over and join the Facebook page.