27 Jun 2014, 3:13pm
Glad Game
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Glad Game: Summertime

The weather is not trying to kill us. Moving inside to outside isn’t a shock.

Barefoot in grass. And in hammock.

How hard and intense reading sessions are completed by work of the body. I see why monks do practical gardening and so on. The mind processes better and the body is more complete with useful muscle work.

Since 2004, this is post 2001 at Humanyms.

The yard is taking shape. The new doors in the studio brighten the whole place.

I found all the missing hats. The mysteriously missing baseball caps fell to the back of the top shelf. Thanks to a chair, I saw them, and the missing scarf, the badminton rackets, the frisbee and 2 bottles of sun protection.

That brings our total house count to 7. 2 empty. 2 creams of 30 and 50 spf, of known location. These found. And one other spray bottle on the lam.

Homemade rhubarb juice and homemade lemonade.

It’s date day. Our take off and talk about nothing instrumental or practical while we eat somewhere for a couple hours. It’s a lovely tradition.

Fireflies. I was sure I’d never see them again since we left the countryside but here they found us in our very yard. All this and bat swoop too.

Bruce Taylor Workshop
The Bruce Taylor workshop closed the season with lots of food for thought on didactic poetry from the time of Socrates to present. None of which I’ll pass on here in the interests of going back outside among the sun and ferns.


take a thing, leave a thing box
The exchange boxes are back. Here’s the story behind the people of this round

Make yourself a good day,

25 Jun 2014, 1:57pm

Say it with Flowers

Wordless Wednesday
A bouquet

Peonies season is short and closing.

I don’t think I noticed the buds are red when closed before. They looks like a city cousin of Evening Primrose

Inside the bells.

Do you know about, speaking to Ontarians here, name that wildflower? It is sorted by color pages.

Rain in the yellow daylilies.

Rain collecting in the serviceberry

24 Jun 2014, 5:40pm


Our World Tuesday is not really remote from Ottawa but is a road trip.

The Fieldwork Project has been going a few years on the wild to the west of Perth near Maberly if that helps. Take an unmarked dirt road off Highway 7 beside a lake and stay on it until the banner appears. The site has more directions. There’s a parking lot and a guide in a box, a comments book, a deet and guide to recognizing and removing ticks.

And five new installations by: Geoff Wonnacott, Marc Walter, Lisa Cresky & Susie Osler, Barbara Cuerden & Karina Kraenzle, Zone Vert and Carey Jernigan & John Haney. I’m not sure we ended up looking at them all. Installations by their nature aren’t photographical. One was a nest as if made for a giant with clay shapes in it that you were to raid, take around and break to let the seeds in them be dispersed.

Another was a “hunting” hide with the other side being the daily gathering of a photo in a built environment of grocery store. What is our story of self, of “adventure”, of “normal” and “nature” and our relationship to them.

Forget scarves for trees, how about a glove? Yarn bombing as art? It begs the question of nature and this construct of non-nature defined by humans not being evidenced. Except the grove of pines were probably planted.

That’s by the lady who is often around the tiny fieldhouse at the base of the park across from the National Gallery.

There was a mini picket fortress as if by beavers.

There was a translucent shelter with a ladder in it that lights up at night. First off eye-catching.

Hm, wish it didn’t light up at night even if using solar power. Light pollution happens one lumen at a time and dark skies are so rare. It won’t make a difference in the grand scheme but if it is moving in the wrong direction or right direction? I don’t know if this was part of the design of provocative or my bent.

If it doesn’t matter, but how could it not? I feel guilty for any lights at night. Regularly think of doing a note campaign along the streets to slide under businesses that keep their storefront going continuously to let them know I won’t shop there if they do. If a store is open 24 hours, it is in use. Showing off merchandise in the off-chance someone see it and wants. I like the Paris model where metal doors come down over the store front. Closed is closed.

Ghost barn. I don’t know that I moved to new thoughts. My failing.

I can’t say I get art. I keep exposing myself to it but little catches.


There was a monument to the book and decay. Presumably erosion of information.

You can’t tell but the stack is donut-shaped, narrowing as it goes up. Books are starting to fall off.

From the site info:

The work is about stillness, and interiority, the kind that is particular to the book. In an era where bookishness seems to be disappearing, Speaking Volumes is a testament to the internal voice and its absence – and the persistent beauty of the material object – being slowly returned to its source.

The structure is a sentinel made of books, in a small glade in the pine forest at FIELDWORK. The free-standing structure is accompanied by fragments torn from the books themselves. Words and phrases are suspended from surrounding trees, like nearly perceptible whispers.

There’s the aim.

In the trees around it were torn out bits of paper fluttering on strings and tangling in the pine branches. A bit of a gee whiz factor. Words everywhere.

Except what I appreciate about a forest is the absence of words. Why bring plastics (a different exhibit) and things into a cathedral of light of trees?

Does intention make a difference in effect? Was the yarn and thread cotton or tiny plastics that will stay forever?

It is a claiming of space that is claimed by field and fence and road and broken patchwork of forest, but this time claimed to examine ourselves in with physical prompts?

Am I a philistine? I may have been in the wrong headspace. Some parts of me wall up into skeptical with visual art. Occasionally pottery or sculpture can break thru but mostly I want representative art. Which is at odds with liking representative poetry least of the kinds.

It may have been that I was more concerned with ticks and lyme disease and sun making skin cancer and deet causing other cancers and aerosol eroding atmosphere and amazed that aerosols are still marketed for any use. And caught up what I could see.

flowers are to art what ideas are to words.

What is ephemeral is more interesting than just its aspect of ephemeralness but all the complexity that fits in that life too. We have 172 species of dragonflies in Ontario. Each compound eye has about 30,000 tiny, six-sided lenses or facets. It may buzz past a Bladder Campion which is that inflated pouch of a roadside flower with white petals. Perhaps someone taught you to pluck it and snap it against the back of your hand. As it ages the seeds inside it turn from white to pale and darker purple then black-brown. They are “weeds” because they’ve been here centuries, but came from Europe.

20 Jun 2014, 3:17pm
Comments Off on How to be Kind

How to be Kind

How to build positive moments so you are around people you like and can enjoy those people. How many times have I walked away after a tea and thought of things I wanted to know about the person but I was so anxious being out, still caught up in being lost trying to find the place, carried by the river of their outpouring or carried by the river of their patter of questions…how to hold one’s own?

How to be attentive? Pile all the phones on the centre of the table at meals and no reading at the table will only take people so far. Being present and mindful instead of letting mind fret across to-do lists. Conversations can take the form of instrumental lists of what just happened or what’s about to happen. How to get deeper?

Conversations can be waiting for some chance to understand some point of reference so you can register and get into part of the monologue. How to get an informed question out? How to talk? It’s so hard.

A pile up of traded kvetches leads to a downward competitive spiral. Jokes alone and people are told to suck it up while being amused.

Masters of Love is an article in The Atlantic by Emily Esfahani Smith. It is one of the more worthwhile things I’ve read in a long while.

Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” […]

The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.

Are we turning towards or signalling person and subject as unwanted with inattention?

Part of publishing and the crits of literary reviews is that people grandstand for themselves instead of engage with the book at hand. Part of that is active listening. It is turning towards the book instead of saying you dialogue with it but actually never get past yourself to what the intentions are.

Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. […] One way to practice kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions. […] Imagine her joining him for dinner, excited to deliver her gift, only to realize that he’s in a sour mood because he misinterpreted what was motivating her [late] behavior. The ability to interpret your partner’s actions and intentions charitably can soften the sharp edge of conflict.

How to talk? Talk back. How? If the person is happy, don’t be a stick in the mud. Empathy and compassion has some echo to it. What is support? Agreeing to common ground. Letting the other person have the floor.

All of this would be at home with buddhist lecture on practicing lovingkindness. or a Christian lecture on way to be loving in the world. She goes into exact details which for me are far more illuminating than guidelines. She backs it up with various studies which pleases my brain-side.

What makes people want to be around each other? No contempt towards each other, looking in the same direction, being an open friend instead of indifferent. Part of that is caring in the moment.

Another powerful kindness strategy revolves around shared joy. […]

We’ve all heard that partners should be there for each other when the going gets rough. But research shows that being there for each other when things go right is actually more important for relationship quality.

Contempt and kindness are muscles. What does kindness look like? I saw my mom’s friend interact with her and how to put a finger on how she expressed that she liked mom? There’s an attitude of acceptance in tone. There’s a proximity, a bodily trust that doesn’t presume the other will flinch. There’s no meanness or contempt, o presumption that whatever comes out of mom’s mouth should be questioned as wrong, unlike say, when she interacts with her sibling who are default disrespectful by my standard and by default override and make speech acts of control or joke. You can divorce your family. Many do.

The principles of kindness work in any context. The retailer assumes I’m a jam-jar shoplifter or glances and assumes I can’t afford her clothes. Maybe they’re punchy from other people or from Having-A-Bad-day/life-phase. If someone is omnidirectional mistrustful it’s about what they fight inside themselves. Not about me, or this moment. It’s not productive to debate or engage. It is productive to disarm myself rather than bristle to signal they are safe to do so as well.

Back to that article, here’s a nugget:

in general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways that they called: passive destructive, active destructive, passive constructive, and active constructive.

Let’s say that one partner had recently received the excellent news that she got into medical school. She would say something like “I got into my top choice med school!”

If her partner responded in a passive destructive manner, he would ignore the event. For example, he might say something like: “You wouldn’t believe the great news I got yesterday! I won a free t-shirt!”

If her partner responded in a passive constructive way, he would acknowledge the good news, but in a half-hearted, understated way. A typical passive constructive response is saying “That’s great, babe” as he texts his buddy on his phone.

In the third kind of response, active destructive, the partner would diminish the good news his partner just got: “Are you sure you can handle all the studying? And what about the cost? Med school is so expensive!”

Finally, there’s active constructive responding. If her partner responded in this way, he stopped what he was doing and engaged wholeheartedly with her: “That’s great! Congratulations! When did you find out? Did they call you? What classes will you take first semester?”

Among the four response styles, active constructive responding is the kindest. While the other response styles are joy-killers, active constructive responding allows the partner to savor her joy and gives the couple an opportunity to bond over the good news. In the parlance of the Gottmans, active constructive responding is a way of “turning toward” your partners bid (sharing the good news) rather than “turning away” from it.

Sometimes I don’t know what to say, or how to elaborate in that direction, don’t know what to ask so fearful of silence, zip back on autopilot to me, some safe verbiage. It’s a common strategy. Brainfreeze. But if the silence goes on too long it signals leavetaking. Conversation isn’t rife with patience.

Shifting topics sidelines whatever the other was saying. “Tell me more” works sometimes. Sometimes it is too open-ended and exasperates. The time to react is now. What reaction was just cued. Why is the person happy? What was the happy part? What reaction is in order?

Sometimes people tamp down their feelings. Unlike say a toddler who is cartoon joy or terror or overwhelmed. We can be more mixed as adults instead of a total displacement. The intent is to connect, or else we would be somewhere else Not with people, or that person.

Why would you not celebrate with someone’s excitement if you know that’s what to do. Or enter someone’s grief. We don’t need to have our intellect see if we would agree with the source feeling and say someone’s feelings are fine for them but we would be inappropriate by our morals to support. If someone has a rare steak dinner in front of me, I don’t want to share their steak, but I do want to enter their pleasure of it. If someone is sad because someone who mistreated them finally went away, that is a stage of loss to honour. Telling someone that it’s for the best doesn’t help the speaker or the unconsoled.

Sometimes it feels too risky to feel anything. Some people cycle fast. If someone is hangry and exhausted, and determined to be chipper, I can’t shift moods that readily. But I can acknowledge and look towards instead of shutting out. That’s not just human but what any mammal does in a natural response to another animal.

Except the occasional cat. Like Suzie of circa 1987. She was incredible perceptive and would come out of the woodwork if I was in distress, but as a time-limited offer. As if, Hey, I nuzzled you. You won’t take comfort. Fine Not dealing with this right now. Got toms to see.

13 Jun 2014, 5:28pm
Comments Off on Interim-mittant


Did you come by when I was out?

Someone came knocking at my wee small door.
Someone came knocking I’m sure, sure, sure.
I listened, I opened,
I looked from left to right,
but not there was a stirring in the still dark night.

Walter de la Mare’s was one of the first poems I memorized and it still delights me. (He also wrote horror stories and was a bank official. How odd.)

For me, I’m still busy. G’wan over to pesbo to see the event de jour. And I speak more at twitter more than anywhere.

Life and I’ll surely slow down for a bit soon. Mid-next-week looks calm.

Once, several years ago, Colleen in Manitoba said summers are too busy with gardening to blog and I didn’t understand it at the time. Ah, I get it now.

Life maintenance and 1/4 of what you want to get done seems to take all the time. Pick and choose, pickaxe and chip.

We have garden beds. I have a largely functional shoulder, chest and back again. I’ve felt outright normal for about 2 weeks now. How extraordinary normal is.

Around the 25th I’ll have blocks of times to get thru all the back burner stuff for a while.

But on the other hand, after a 3 year wait, we have poppies blooming. Each of the last 2 years we were away when they were going to blossom. They take a long time in bud almost popping.

Heavy rains last night made them look far less like crepe paper than they did the day before. But even torn and a little past prime, they look fabulous. And more buds are thick with their own waiting.

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