War(nings) & Peace

It’s true about the squeaky wheel. What a wonderful slide of silence that the laundry line makes.

Everything is training. Even for birds.

begging duck
At a beach where people know not to feed the seagulls, the seagulls sit indifferent to people, but the ducks have learned to beg. Is anything nature at all?

Duck awaits your reply.

And the soybean grows, indifferent.

balancing stones, Ottawa
A stone balances unless acted on by an outside force. Our outside forces are internalized and one never knows when they’ll reanimate.

Our country — and by that I mean more confederacy of many groups and millions of individuals, living at least some of their time in a region, governed by some overlapping laws — used to commemorate soldiers on November 1st and recite “lest we forget, never again” and speak of peace and the grief that visits generation after last, the devastation if things escalate too far.

Now we have a new narrative pushed forward, more war monuments, more reenactments. Instead of a memory tree for a life loved we have a story of two complicit with bolstering the idea of nation founded in war with symbolic water from each ocean and dirt from where a battle was. I don’t even want to point to the story.

6 months ago our Museum of Civilization with a mandate to educate on the history of the human story got it’s mandate narrowed to Canada as the Museum of History.

The Museum of War and Destruction in its new location features “adventure games” for kids. Those are not about discovering Quaker principles, I’m speculating.

Some naively believe we have, roughly speaking a free press, and are distinct from North Korea. We have an affluent western life, but so did Iran before religious police took hold. What information are we missing? As I write I dislike contained narratives but want to break the 4th wall, see what outside the frame complicates the picture. There are always many parallel world going on.

Rapides Deschênes
Rapides Deschênes is another look at the city. A froth of boiling water and signs to say don’t swim.

Minutes away, water as still as that is twisting. The other still froths. While it froths, this still rests.

We are tethered to world economy and should it dive, there are predictable results, a them and us mentality increasing, finding ways to create Others, hardening new imaginary boundaries and history for gender and sexuality, a closing against intellectual and art and disability, a dehumanizing categorically. It does not take long for a zeitgeist of paranoia to sweep people. Media is short-sighted to play at giving attention to stories of our military legacy. In under a decade a story of the times is all a child knows unless people are actively teaching to counter.

It reminds me of being in the countryside near the border of Quebec. At the campfire someone from the circle went to throw in a plastic bottle. His hand was stopped. One shouldn’t burn plastics. The thrower said it is one bottle and does’t make a difference. The person who stopped him said everything makes a difference. Then mused that being here seeing all these stars in such pure air, it’s hard to believe there could be pollution anywhere.

Down in the beach this week some youths were throwing water balloons. As they played a woman with a stoop and a cane came with her wicker bag, opened it, took out a stool, stepped out of her brown skirt and green shirt and folded them carefully and put them in her bag which she hung from a tree. In her shorts and tshirt she sat with her cane leaned beside her. The kids continued to play and one running backward nearly tripped on her and the water balloon splashed the older woman. The girl apologized and the old woman smiled and waved it off. After all the balloons splashed, the young woman came back and combed the beach, ordering her friends to do the same. We have to find all the pieces or the birds will eat them! And her friends diligently went and picked up balloon parts as well.

As I sit her a wasp flies by and then hovers. I go to look and it is partly caught in a spider’s web. Spiders need to eat too but I release the wasp. It’s hard to believe that there is anyone who does not want peace but some people are shit rakers and will do anything to avoid boredom or to get excitement, believe all acts are governed by fate and free choice is an illusion.

There are forces bigger than us and the system binds as well as has leeway of choice. What will predicate what? We work partly blind.

balancing stones, Ottawa
Stone creatures may walk in ice before the ice knocks them flat.

What will animate and what stays innocuous and resolves itself like fog’s blindness?

Do early risers get to see this often?

I realize how rarely I see 5-6 a.m. Only on nights when my body skips sleep entirely do I see those hours, and by then it’s usually occupied and writing, unconscious of the world outside.

Unboring and Bored, Games

Sometimes I think there’s a mole in Harper’s advisors who try to harm his chances, such as the whole ignore The Journey of Nishiyuu. The only strategic thing could be to drown out the efforts of many with the silence of one, to derail attention from them to him by glaring omission and state that international relations is more important than domestic dialogue.

At the same time people aren’t that readily trumped. A couple years ago Lakota youth felt categorically dumped into a category of poverty porn with a simplified portrayal of them. They demonstrated their aspirations and their view of the community they make in a video of their diversity.

Mud-slinging season in politics may only be exacerbated by paying attention but I wonder what was the thinking behind an attack ad over someone donating to a popularly valued health charity. It caused more attention and as much donations in 48 hours as a usual month.

But maybe it still got its intended effect?

The games are absurd.

A little attention there is a red herring from what this time? It’s like grocery sales. Such and such item goes on sale while other items go up so unless you want to go buy only the cheap items all around town, it nets the same. Even if it does it nets the same because some people will buy what they buy at any price, others refuse things on sale as defective or old or only buy by the higher price. So why not cut the games from the system?

kitten toes break
Oh look, kittie in a box!

A sense of proportion and a sense of humour is easiest when in extreme pain or relieved pain.

The thunderstorm that unleashed last night with lightning and a nearby thunderclap also made the barometric pressure much more compatible with my joints.

Besides that I went to a chiropractor. That only took me 3 months.

Now I can do stupid human tricks. I can turn my head to the right. Listen, no crackly sounds. Wait, it gets better. *and* the left. I can scratch my left shoulder with my right arm and scratch my own back.

Glad Game: And I can lift my right arm, suddenly even. And I can swing arms backwards. Without a pain jolt. Neat, huh.

I found some good books.

I was one of the winners of the tweet poetry contest at the Ottawa Public Library with Amanda Earl, Adam Thomlison and JC Sulzenko.

I won a book from Coach House with the tweet your favorite CanLit poetry line though Canada Arts Connect.

And I got a poem up with the excellent company at The Week Shall Inherit the Verse!

Phew. Quite a week.

All this and weather that doesn’t need a sweater nor a jacket.

The gardens are cleaned up. Spring onions are planted.

Walking in the dappling rain there were two little girls in their summer dressed on their doorstep. The littler one bent over to examine a rain drop splotch on the walkway and sang “rain, rain, little rain, won’t you come everyday”.

The picnic table and bench are back outside. The barbecue is out and ready to cook something.

Quote: “Any sportiveness in cattle is unexpected. I saw one day a herd of a dozen bullocks and cows running about and frisking in unwieldy sport, like huge rats, even like kittens. They shook their heads, raised their tails, and rushed up and down a hill […] a sudden loud WHOA! would have damped their ardor at once, reduced them from venison to beef, and stiffened their sides and sinews like the locomotive. Who but the Evil One has cried the “Whoa!” to mankind? ~ Henry David Thoreau

Tidier Tidbits & Preventing National Messy Futures

When faced with stress, you can make something cleaner or add to the chaos.

  1. ↑ Lookie There ↑ New, simpler, cleaner.
  2. SuperBri and I pruned the plugins, and css on site so there should be no more hangs and failure to load!
  3. The burning DNA that has been remodelled thru each site update is once more clear.
  4. Pretty DNA, watch it spin and change it thanks to Kasen Lam. Celebrate that science isn’t illegal (yet).
  5. Get geek geared up: DNA neckties, DNA dog chews, or inflatable beach safety DNA anyone?
  6. “Sweetie, next time you’re feeling superior, lie down until it passes.” ~ ‏@YourAuntLola aka Deborah McKinlay
  7. Or with a terrible headache, a lie-down helps too; “The bill submitted as a budget bill to the Canadian House of Commons will introduce, amend or repeal nearly 70 federal laws”, including fair wage, pah who needs that, huh? What fun, start being a senior citizen later, take any job, fitting or not or be cut off from Employment insurance. Let’s end food inspection, cut CBC by 10% more…
  8. Bill C-38 has not passed, but is beyond bad news for environments. (We already are out of the Kyoto Protocol and it was such a baby step.)
  9. An internet Blackout to Speak Out on June 4 has over 13,000 pledged so far to protest this absurdly wrong headed bill.
  10. Which is fine but rather than trusting the ripple will reach them, register your position to your MP as well.
  11. The bill is far-reaching and short sighted which is a combo sure to whack over something with unfortunate consequences.
  12. You may experience some turbulence…On a lighter note, anyone want mini moo cards? Refer with this # and get 10% off
  13. 10 Questions that create success in life like “Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?”

[More Thursday 13 participants]

Quote: “The world in old photos, / or the world in spring – / which is younger?” ~ Roo Borson, p. 24, Rain; road; an open boat (M&S, 2012)

Rob MacInnis: Questioning the Narrative Given

Rob McInnisRob MacInnis gave an artist talk at SPAO at the end of the year. He was just in town briefly as he’s doing his Master of Fine Arts in Photography in Rhode Island. Amid the shuffle of moving, the hopes of writing that up while the exhibit was still up disappeared. But this Thursday his family portrait of the farm animals will be auctioned as a fundraiser.

During the evening of Feb 9th at School of Photographic Arts Ottawa one image from each of these photographers will also be on offer to the highest bidder: David Barbour, Jim des Rivieres, Tony Fouhse, Leslie Hossack, Pedro Isztin, Michael Schreier and Michelle Wilson. (Links to images here.)

MacInnis is an interesting fellows, one of those rare souls who are truly curious about the world, an explorer. He used to be at NSCAD, a design school in Nova Scotia. For class project they were to do portraits and he kept drawing object, like a toy donkey for every style of assignment. His teacher was frustrated with his choice and insisted that he do a life portrait, no more toys. Ok, he complied. And went off and found a donkey in person. This independent-mindedness led him to a farm. Having been city-raised he’d never really seen animals outside a petting zoo. Eventually his path to the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada. The Donkey Sanctuary has, since 1992 provided 100 acres to rescued animals. 61 equines (donkeys, mules and hinnies belong to the equine family, for those who may not know) are there, and 40 more are out at foster homes.

But before he came to that place he went off to tour South America and took around 6000 photos in the process. He became conscious of the tourist photographer as a detached outsider and exploitive viewer. He became troubled by this sense that photograph consumes subjects, He said.

“I began photographing farm animals because I was interested in using them as a metaphor for the fashion model. I wanted to draw parallels between literally consuming them, which we do everyday, and the way the photograph ‘consumes’ its subject.”

He did some sculpting instead. He considered. He looked at the history of panaramas and how they are the photography of the blue color history. They were the working class access to being immortalized. People could only afford a portrait if a whole factory chipped in for a group photo. Eugene Goldbeck a panorama photographer from Texas started photographing large groups about a century ago. It seemed clear to MacInnis, and to me, that animals are our working class. They are our labourers without rights, unions or health protections. They’re the lowest tier of our society.

At My Modern Met he says,

“Over the last five years, the project has evolved into more of a critique of photography’s role in our society. I’ve experimented with different genres of photography; fashion, family portraits, documentary, narrative, and panorama, always using farm animals as the subject matter. I wanted to explore more how the camera manipulates its subject and constructs a reality, more than learn anything directly specific about the animals.”

He wants his Hasselblad photos to wobble on the line of plausible and implausible. Some images look staged and yet are real due to the perspective of presenting a donkey on a school stage, with curtains and formal lighting, yet from behind the scenes showing the staging. It plays with the sense of what is real.

One thing I liked about his presentation was that he presented things he’d seen, not as if this is the Way Things Are. He said he’s unsure if he is a photographer, and although a couple people in audience chuckled at if it were false modesty, or as if to assure him, it seems to me not a soliciting assurance but a plain truth from a seeker.

He took about 30,000 hours to do portraits of 80 animals from around PEI to try to match time of day and angle so they could be assembled into a digital composite photo. It took him about 2 years as a labour of love. His farm animal portraits are a send up to Annie Leibovitz style of fashion photography, recreating some of her poses, except with sheep or a family group of dog, chicken and other farm animals.

He’s a fellow who makes choices that follow his own bliss. He’s also part of the 19-member cheer brigade punk marching band that has been making joyful noises for 6 years and was part of the video that went viral to millions of hits and onto CNN: Joey Quits. It become part of the campaign for hotel service worker rights. More here.

Monty Reid did a Call and Response set of poems on MacInnis’ photos called So is the Madness of Humans. The poetry end of the project is curated by rob mclennan.

Today is the last day to see the current exhibit of Pedro Isztin. The Call and Response is Shadow Lines by Sandra Ridley. In a couple weeks the new show will go up with Christine McNair responding with words to the images of Solo Series No. 1: By Hand by Caroline Tallmadge.

refracted light
Beauty and doors have a way of suddenly being there.

Quote: “Where there is no belief, there is no blasphemy.” ~ Salman Rushdie

Think of the Judges. Vote.


Just Vote. And if you don’t know how to vote in the federal election and are wondering about strategy, Catch 22 Campaign lists history of swing ridings and where your vote might swing away from Conservative party majority. That is based on if people’s voting behaviors are held constant, which can’t be relied on. Any riding can become a swing. Voting is done on an individual basis. You can’t rely on what anyone else may or may not do. Do what you can yourself.

The thing about this election is that whoever becomes Prime Minister chooses over the next 4 years the Supreme Court judges. Over the term, 4 reach mandatory retirement and any from 1-4 more may burn out or leave for personal reasons. 1 of the 9 positions has already been filled by the Conservative government. Judges, appointed in their 50s sit until age 75. They can’t be removed. They are the interpreters of the law that the government then enforces.

Who the judges are can have more impact than whoever is elected. As will any movement among citizens to interact, lobby, petition, report and pay attention to make government reps, who represent us, accountable.

For more on that, check out Philip Slayton’s book Mighty Judgement. Info thanks to Writers Fest Books and Brunch.

Quote: “The worst thing you can possibly do is worrying and thinking about what
you could have done.” ~ Georg C. Lichtenberg

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