Friday, September 30, 2005

NYC Museum of Modern Art Poster - 1

I found this book in the library from an exhibit they did a while back. Very interesting collection of posters!

Theatre ad - 1894

Shoe ad - 1912

French Railway ad - 1929

London Underground ad by Man Ray - 1932

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"Stringed Instruments"

On my way to my music class at Uvic this last Monday (The Viennese Enlightenment...great as always) I always enjoy the art displays from the Art Education Department. This assignment was to create "stringed instruments" from paper and string. Very imaginative, don't you think?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Family Snapshot - a story of two grandmothers.

Both grandmothers were very important to me and the following story says a lot about the kind of people they were. I was about seven years old at the time and it was Thanksgiving. We were going to my paternal grandmother's (Phoebe's) for dinner. My parents were having a big argument which was disconcerting because my parents rarely argued. It seemed that my mother wanted her mother (Selma) to join us. This was unusual as we had always seen the grandmothers separately.

This was apparently a big problem because my aunt and grandmother didn't like my mother's mother because she was a poor Swedish immigrant who spoke with an accent. This was my first experience with social class and prejudice and I was devastated. I loved both grandmothers could they not love each other!

In the end Selma was invited and although my aunt Evelyn was quite cool, Phoebe was welcoming and friendly thoughout the evening. After dinner we played a simple card game. Selma didn't really know anything about cards. I'm not sure she had even played a card game before and when it came her time to deal she obviously didn't have a clue how to shuffle the cards. But she wasn’t daunted and was determined to take her turn like everyone else. She asked for a basket and shuffled them around in that! My aunt rolled her eyes but Phoebe, who was renowned for her canasta playing, made a special point of saying what a good idea that was for shuffling!

I'll never forget my grandmother's kindness that day.

I remember well the last time I saw Phoebe. I was only 12 years old and had never seen anyone in hospital before. We went to visit her there and I had been told she was very ill. When we arrived she was in an oxygen tent and that frightened me. She realized my concern immediately and took it off saying it didn't matter, hugged me close and held my hand.

I think I remember these incidents because they show that my grandmother, Phoebe, had such heart. It didn't matter that her grand daughter ruined her plants by watering the tops, or that the other grandmother her grand daughter loved so much shuffled cards in a basket, or that she, herself, needed the oxygen tent. She realized other things mattered.

And when I think of my other grandmother, Selma, I realize she always showed heart in everything she did.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Family Snapshot - my grandmother, Phoebe. Part 2

I have quite a few things that belonged to her including a gold pocket watch, silver dressing set, napkin rings, her opera glasses, canasta playing cards, silver locket, sterling flatware, etc. It was very important to have these things. One needed to “keep up appearances” but they struggled as well. It must have been difficult for them to acquire these "necessities" along with buying a violin for my father and paying for lessons so he could have the possibility of becoming a musician.

This side of the family were prairie wheat farmers (some still are) and my father’s family couldn’t make a go of farming in Saskatchewan so moved to have a farm in the lower mainland but that didn’t work out either. My grandfather eventually gave up farming and became a salesman for Singer Sewing Machines. I remember my father telling me he had to shoot his dog because the cows chased the dog into the barn and a dog who couldn't earn his keep coudn't be kept. According to his father, since it was his dog he had to shoot it. That must have been a difficult thing for a gentle soul.

I treasure the napkin rings the most as we have names or initials of four generations on them now. My mother came up with this idea and I was thrilled to have my name on my grandmother’s ring. If I have a granddaughter her name will join ours.

Some of my grandmother's things.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Family Snapshot - my grandmother, Phoebe. Part 1

I remember my paternal grandmother, Phoebe, very well and still think about her even though I was only twelve when she died. I always thought of her as being a very elegant person and she was obviously delighted to have grandchildren. My father married quite late in life and his sister was a spinster. My grandmother was very much like my father in personality....a kind, gentle person with a quiet sense of humour.

I remember staying with her and my aunt during holiday periods. She was a great gardener and let me help her in the garden. She taught me that you watered plants at their roots, although I didn't really believe it and I remember sneaking out and pouring water over the tops just to make sure they didn't die! I was also quite fascinated by the milk being delivered by Kerrisdale they still had that system although most of the city had motor trucks. My grandmother would always pick up the droppings for her garden.

She was a wonderful cook and was famous for her gravy and her sugar cookies were always perfect and to die for. She was an excellent lawn bowler and canasta player. I remember her always coming back from these sessions with the "prize" which was a pound of loose tea.

Phoebe and her husband, Thomas.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Un Cadeau pour Monique

I'm reposting this little quicktime movie for Monique. I took it in 2002 when we visited Monique's mother, Jacqueline, and her partner Roger in St. Aygulf.

Family Snapshot - my grandmother, Selma. Part 2

My grandmother loved flowers and floral motifs were everywhere in her small apartment. Her favourite colour was yellow. My favourite colour has always been red so we were pretty close in taste. She loved to crochet and made tablecloths and bedspreads for all her children and grandchildren.

A tablecloth my grandmother crocheted for me and my mother's treasured crystal bowl.

She was a member of many Seniors’ groups in Vancouver and travelled on the bus to a different one everyday. She especially enjoyed the crafts they did and her place was full of things she had made. She also painted hundreds of Royal Doulton type figures. They were just plaster underneath but all the same they looked almost authentic. She loved giving her family these gifts.

Dolls that my grandmother painted especially for me when I was a child.

She never really had anything of value until she was given a gold link bracelet that had belonged to her mother. When relatives from Sweden were visiting they brought this bracelet with them for her. Since it had a reddish tinge and my grandmother always referred to it as “Swedish gold” we felt it probably wasn’t really gold and we had always heard the stories of how poor they were. One day a friend pointed out the "gold mark" and explained how European gold was often made from a copper base so that’s why it looked different from our yellow gold. Also, that even poor families often had their “piece of gold” just in case very dire times arrived. My mother gave me the bracelet many years ago and I have always treasured it.

My greatgrandmother, Kristina Karolina Munson, taken in 1906 in Sweden

My grandmother had little money but was very generous and made sure there was something for her great grandchildren when she died. It was a significant amount of money for someone in her position to save and was very helpful to the recipients. I know she would have deprived herself of little things to be able to do this; but also I know she would have received great pleasure doing it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Family Snapshot - my grandmother, Selma. Part 1

Although I never knew my grandfathers I felt very blessed to have two wonderful grandmothers. My maternal grandmother, Selma, lived to the age of 95 and died when I was 30 so we had many years of friendship and she was able to see me get married and start a family. She was always very taken with how my husband would often whistle to himself. She felt this was the mark of a very happy man!

Her life wasn’t easy. Her own husband had abandoned the family leaving her with four children to raise. She cleaned houses to do this. She had immigrated from Sweden as a young woman. She often told me that although they were poor they had a farm so the family always had food, unlike other people in her village. She also told me about the rich people whose properties she had to walk a long way round to get home.

My mother left school after grade 8 to help my grandmother clean houses since she was the eldest of the four children and they needed the money. My mother loved a chrystal bowl in one of the houses they cleaned and always filled it with flowers from the garden. One day the mistress of the house gave the bowl to my mother since she loved it so much and you can imagine what a thrill this was for my mother. I still have it and it is a very beautiful bowl.

My grandmother, Selma, (standing) and her sister Karin.

Friday, September 23, 2005

How it all began...

Richard got me doing this blog by explaining "blogging" was a new and different way of writing. This was when I was rather frustrated I couldn't write that novel I had always thought I would write when I was retired. I hated every minute sitting staring at that blank page when I was trying to do that whereas I find doing this blog tremendous fun. Writing doesn't seem a chore when you're doing it in little bits and don't feel you have to write anything particularly strange or startling.

I've recently printed up all my blog entries and it's interesting for me to look back at them. I'm glad I have them in that format as the online archive is rather annoying to read since it's done by week. And I realize that it all adds up to quite a bit of writing in the end and is a record of our travels and things we've been doing...some of which I've already forgotten!

So I thought it would be a good idea to include from time to time what I'm going to call "Family Snapshots"...remembrances of people and things in the past. Writing a "Family History" would seem daunting and pretentious somehow; but I'm sure blogging these stories will be fun and in the end there will be a record that I'm sure will be fun to read for me and our family in the years to come. In the process of writing these I find I'm starting to remember things I had "forgotten".

I'll start tomorrow with the first one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cook Street Village and Fort Street

We continue our walks around Victoria. It's really fun exploring various areas we don't usually go to.

Top hats in a store on Fort

A fabulous old Plymouth parked on Cook Street

Monday, September 19, 2005

A few more Vancouver photos

I thought this bakery's way of advertising its daily special was the perfection of simplicity and very effective. What they do is place a baking tray of flour in the window with what's featured etched out in the flour.

And I guess what's old is new again. I took this picture walking along fourth Ave. It could have been an outfit I wore in the 60's when living in Kits and going to UBC.

We noticed they've created a "doggy run free beach" walking along from Kits to the Planetarium. These dogs look like they're in seventh heaven, n'est-ce pas?

And these dogs are were heading towards the beach with great anticipation.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A super weekend in Vancouver

We just came back from a super weekend in Vancouver doing a house exchange with a couple who have a fabulous condo on Broadway above Lumiere. We were hoping to get into his bistro next door (Feeney's) but were too late reserving; however, we had a super dinner at The Mistral beside it...sort of a French bistro style. I had an excellent cassoulet and Jim and Richard had great steaks. For lunch we went to the "Watermark", the new restaurant on Kits beach. We just love this area and have so many memories of Kits that we'll probably go to this restaurant everytime we go to Vancouver. Food excellent as well...especially enjoyed the tempura smelts...yum...! And Sunday brunch at Bridges on Granville's great that Richard is living there now.

Brunch at Bridges.

The new "Watermark" restaurant at Kits beach

I hope this can be read. We hadn't noticed this's on the way from Kits towards the Planetarium.

Kits again and Jim climbing up the pole that has been there since he used to visit his grandparents as a kid.

Richard and I in Stanley Park

Friday, September 16, 2005

Frank Gehry in Brighton

I always find Frank Gehry's work fascinating. I loved his building at MIT...the only interesting building in the whole place!
His design for Brighton, U.K. is being vilified but I think it could look great.

Gehry says his design was inspired by his vision of "Victorian women in flowing dresses promenading along the seafront". His critics say it's more like "transvestites caught in a gale". You be the judge.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Another Olympic view with arbutus trees

I'm having a lot of fun mixing paint these days to get various effects.

Olympic View with Arbutus Trees 2
18 x 24 acrylic on canvas

Monday, September 12, 2005

Posters of the Canadian Pacific

I felt really lucky to have come across this book...loads of super posters and excellent commentary.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Sunday Telegraph

We always enjoy getting a British newspaper to get us over the Labour Day drought of papers. The British newspapers really do reflect the diverse culture of the country with news, gossip, foolishness etc, I think. Unlike the French newspapers which are almost entirely print and consist of long winded debates by the top intellectuals in the country...not a lot of fun to read.

Front page picture is of Peter Mandelson and his gay lover relaxing at a concert in Italy when apparently as EU trade commissioner he should be dealing with the crisis in retail because of the new quotas on imports from China.

Story about the enormous growth in foreign students who come for the quality of education but are shocked by the excess drinking and pub culture.
I rather enjoyed this quote from a British born student:
"If I have nothing to do I get up late--and if I have lots to do I get up later!"

A few other items from section one :

"Dumbed-down GCSEs are a 'scam' to improve league tables, claim critics"
Some of the questions given are one question candidates had to identify 'two different family relationships".

"Libyan cadet to train with William at Sandhurst"

"Autistic boy, 7, wins four-year fight to attend special school
Landmark victory offers hope to hundreds of disabled pupils forced into regular education.

"Madonna uses secret nightclub 'focus groups' to pick songs for new album

"What a sauce. Most of us think lasagne is an English dish"

"PM not looking for Barbados home, says Downing Street"

"Euan Blair books work experience with leading US critic of Iraq war intelligence"

"European Europeans fell out of love with the euro"

Friday, September 09, 2005

Tourists in our own home town...

We chose the Inner Harbour and environs for our walk the other day. People even tried to help us find our way...did we really look that dazed and confused?

Seeing Victoria from this point of view does bring home our rather poorly developed prime waterfront areas. I'm not sure which is worse...the mundane cookie cutter condos of the Songhees or the steel and glass montrosities around Fisherman's Wharf. I took a lot of pictures but I can't really find anything inspiring to paint except the houseboats.

Fern and Carole playing tourist

I'm not sure I'd like to live permanently in a houseboat but an exchange for a while could be fun.

Someone shouted at me while I was taking this picture...good thing I looked like a tourist. I figured I'd start speaking French if he came after me.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

How Buildings Learn

This is the title of a rather interesting book by Steward Brand, the creator of The Whole Earth Catalog.
I initially was introduced to this book by a blog that had a post on creative uses of shipping containers as housing and for other types of buildings. While I appreciate the beauty and functionality of high end renovations I am also very attracted to simple solutions to accommodation needs.

The chapter in this book "Nobody Cares What You Do in There: The Low Road" is quite fascinating. A quote:

"Low Road buildings are low-visibility, low-rent, no-style, high-turnover. Most of the world's work is done in Low Road buildings, and even in rich societies, the most inventive creativity, especially youthful creativity, will be found in Low Road buildings taking full advantage of the to try things."

Brand uses examples like the garages of Silicon Valley (Apple Computer, Hewlett-Packard) and MIT's legendary Building 20.

I hope for everyone's sake New Orleans isn't just rebuilt for the rich and becomes a theme park with gambling. Let's hope the powers that be try to create innovative housing for the disadvantaged as well so they could return if they want to.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What I've been reading lately...

"Case Histories" by Kate Atkinson
I had enjoyed "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" but couldn't get into "Emotionally Weird"; however, I enjoyed this one a lot--partly because it was rather like reading a mystery novel and she can be incredibly funny especially when describing children who are little horrors.

"Killing Floor" by Lee Child
This was his first novel written in '97 and really a very good thriller/mystery. I see he's written a number since so hope they are engaging as this one...always on the lookout for good plane and travel reading.

"Leaving Home" by Anita Brookner
A short novel and all the usual suspects really in terms of characters but somehow she does retain an interest and freshness.

"With No One As Witness" by Elizabeth George
I think she could have cut to the chase with this one, although if she was trying to give the reader the experience of how tedious and boring a murder investigation really is, she succeeded. I skimmed over some of this and I rarely do that.

"Locked Rooms" by Laurie R. King
I always enjoy the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. This one was much calmer, more precedural, only one amazing coincidence, one rather mundane dressing up as someone else, and almost no impossible "daring do". Although the last one in the series (The Game) was a little over the top, it was tremendous fun reading it and I missed the usual excitement and all of the above in this one. Dashiel Hammett was a character so that was fun.

Since a major part of the story takes place in SF and in flashback to 1906 in SF when there was the big earthquake and fire and the resulting damage, confusion, looting, etc, it felt odd to be reading this story at the same time as hearing about the terrible devastation of Katrina.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Vancouver Harbour Revisited

I did another Vancouver Harbour recently...thought I might try to sell one of them. Not sure which one I like the best.

Vancouver Harbour 2
22 x 28 acrylic on canvas
Painted in Victoria Sept/05

Vancouver Harbour 1
22 x 28 acrylic on canvas
Painted in Victoria Dec/04

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Sunrise at Nin and Andy's

I did this painting for Nin's move into Carleton House. We were invited for a drink there last night to see it and were very entering a luxury hotel! When Nin and Andy moved to St Anne from the Arbutus area I remember Nin saying she missed the sunrises over the Olympics so I thought this painting would capture a little bit of that.

It was really fun last night, Nin, and we wish you many happy years in your new home!

"Sunrise at Nin and Andy's"
Painted in Victoria Sept 2/05
11 x 14 acrylic on canvas

Friday, September 02, 2005

Can you say "podcasting"?

This is a recent technology that I think could motivate me to buy an iPod. My trusty old walkman and cd's are fine for any amount of music I would want to listen to but with this technology I could listen to radio programs from BBC and CBC and also access newspapers in audio form all when I want to and without having to be connected to an Internet connection (except for the initial downloading). This could really work when we're travelling and aren't particularly interested in the local media (i.e. France is sooo boring for TV, radio, and newspapers) and when Internet connection isn't that easy (France takes the cake on that one again).

Another great advantage of having an iPod is being able to download and view my photos without having to lug around the laptop.

I found this site on podcasting to be a good overview.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Walking in Fairfield

Fern and I, and sometimes, Carole, have been taking walks suggested in Rosemary Neering's "The New Victoria Walking Guide".

A few pictures from our walk in Fairfield.

Ross Bay Cemetary...looking for but didn't find Emily Carr's grave. Will take a map next time.

Some lovely houses painted with heritage colours.

I thought this stained glass window of the golfer was great!