back to california

every time i’ve visited california since moving away in 2009, it’s been a bit…overwhelming.  bittersweet.  that familiar scent in the air just kills me.  it’s strange to go around my old haunts, but as a tourist and not a local.  to see what’s changed.

i tried to write out this long post about my feelings, and how good it was to see my friends and do a lot of fun things, but instead i will show you a bunch of photos.  you already know about me getting a bunch of tattoos and eating mexican food…!

right before my camera got headbutted by this big tortoise!

 

2011 reading list

yeah, it’s a few weeks into the new year already, but who fucking cares. this is what i read in 2011.

infinite possibilities – mike dooley
eating animals – jonathan safran foer
the duchess – amanda foreman
when fox was a thousand – laryssa lai
the golden compass,
the amber spyglass,
the subtle knife – philip pullman
the magician’s nephew,
the lion, the witch and the wardrobe,
the horse & his boy,
the voyage of the dawn treader,
the silver chair,
the last battle – cs lewis
no country for old men – cormac mccarthy
lies my teacher told me – james w loewen
the vagina monologues – eve ensler
anne of green gables,
anne of avonlea,
anne of the island,
anne of windy poplars,
anne’s house of dreams,
anne of inglewood,
rainbow valley,
rilla of ingleside – lm montgomery
salt – mark kurlansky
the journey prize anthology
girl goddess #9 – francesca lia block
wind, sand and stars – antione de sainte exupery
jinian footseer,
dervish daughter,
jinian stareye,
kings blood four,
necromancer nine,
wizard’s eleven – sherri s. tepper
matigari – ngugi wa thiongo
things fall apart – chinua achebe
i was amelia earhart – jane mendlesohn
what is the what – valentino achak deng & dave eggers
the edible woman,
cat’s eye,
life before man – margaret atwood
the room – emma donoghue
necklace of kisses – francesca lia block
love in the time of cholera – gg marquez
the autograph man – zadie smith
tender is the night – f. scott fitzgerald
master & margarita – mikhail bulgakov
songbird journeys – miyoko chu
naive. super – erland loe

i know i’m missing a few, but that’s something i’ll just have to let rest. as it is, the list weighs in at fifty one titles, up from a low of twenty six in 2009.

i re-read a tonne of books last year; thirty one of the fifty were re-reads. the most disappointing re-read was the chronicles of narnia. i read them around age ten, and again at seventeen or eighteen, and enjoyed them both times, but on this read-through the overt sexist and christian themes really got to me. i re-read anne of green gables for the first time since 2004 and still found the characters, writing and themes super charming. and of course i loved the his dark materials trilogy! it’s immensely moving every time i return to it.

the new reads i enjoyed most: middlesex, master and margarita, naive.super, eating animals, what is the what, everything listed by sherri s. tepper.

least favourite new reads: the room, tender is the night, the autograph man.

care to share the best books you encountered last year?

inkformation v. 1

portmanteaus are pretty much my favourite, so i bring you a new blog-feature. ink-formation. get it? ink/information? GROAAAAAAN

ok, now that we have that over with, i wanted to share a few of my tattoos with you, specifically the ones i have gotten for other people.

THE FIRST

is a coffee cup that says FRED. it’s kinda silly; it’s for my super-goofy grandpa z (mom’s dad). his name is harold, but he calls everyone fred cause he thinks it’s funny. when i was living in the us, he was diagnosed with cancer and for some time was refusing treatment. i kind of panicked and thought i’d never see him again; but then he caved and got the tumour removed and was fine (no chemo necessary!) and since then we have had some nice visits.

the reason i chose a coffee cup was that he has always had this warm grandpa smell of coffee and cigarettes. obviously (i hope) i wouldn’t get a tattoo of a cigarette, so coffee it was.

THE SECOND

(hah, i’m even wearing the same shirt in the photos! crazy coincidence, since they were taken something like 3 years apart)

the second is a strawberry for my grandma w (dad’s mom). i spent a lot of time with her growing up; my parents split up early, and my dad and his parents live near eachother, so they were kind of automatic babysitters. i have fond memories of long summer afternoons with my grandma in her giant garden, picking strawberries, peas, raspberries, carrots, etc. i remember searching for kittens and for eggs under hens; holding tiny chicks in my hands until they fell asleep; feeding the sheep, checking on ewes and lambs; her putting my hair in a bun before ballet every week; watching her strong hands peel vegetables; being spoiled by her getting our favourite kinds of ice cream and letting us have some every day after school if we wanted.

my sweet babushka-wearing grandma was diagnosed with alzheimer’s disease maybe six or seven years ago. she’s progressed fairly slowly, in that the time between diagnoses and death averages seven years. she’s still living at home, but won’t be for much longer. she’s really cheerful even though she’s pretty much oblivious to everything around her and can’t follow conversations. it’s painful to accept that she has slipped away but i have had a few precious moments with her. because her mind was in the past, she shared some stuff with me about working on the farm after my dad was born. although i spent much of my childhood with her, in many ways we had a surface relationship. i didn’t, and still don’t, know a tonne about her past, so it was a real gift to find out a little more before she slipped back into whatever reality she inhabits.

it feels like my grandma is already gone, even though her body is still here. i got this tattoo to keep the good memories of her alive and not buried by the more recent sad ones.

THE THIRD

(and unlikely to be the last dedication) is a lady gouldian finch for my good friend vanessa. it is colourful and grumbledy, just like her.  unfortunately, it’s impossible to photograph the entire bird at once due to the curve of my small arm, but let me assure you it has a beautiful blue-and-green tail wrapping around my wrist.

vanessa has been a really important part of my life for something like six years. she has been such a solid, wonderful friend since we met. when she finds people she likes, she kind of adopts them as her friend and i’m so lucky to be a recipient of her intentions. for most of our friendship, we have lived in different cities, and now that we’re in the same place it’s a real treat.

she always bosses me into taking photos that turn out incredible. she makes me laugh so hard (she has this polished vulgarity that kills me) and gives me great advice when i need it, even if it’s a kick in the ass. she’s wonderfully direct. she has great style and always looks well put together. she’s so smart, has an incredible vocabulary, eclectic tastes and is such a talented artist. we have long been planning to get a tattoo together but nothing suitable has ever occurred to us. when i started working on adding birds to my left arm in 2008 i knew i’d add a piece for her. she is irreplaceable and such a gift in my life. we have had some wonderful times shopping, looking at art, painting our nails and taking photos together. i am so looking forward to many more!

must read: the daily frolic

are you interested in dreamy photography and thoughtful words to accompany it?  YES, I THOUGHT SO.  you should really check out the daily frolic, jasmine fitzwilliam’s photo blog. she’s a talented photographer (obv), designer and all-around doll.

her photo blog is super inspiring.  more often than not, her photos make my heart ache (in a good way) because she captures the beautiful hidden bits of the san diego i know, love, and miss so much.  i have often struggled with that loss but it hasn’t been enough time for the pain to dull.  while i go through my personal battle with love and loss, i can live vicariously through jasmine’s musings and photos.

(this is her!)

 

really, i could be here all day, showing you photos from her flickr. just check it out.

i met jasmine nearly four years ago, while i was living in san diego.  i used to be really into modeling and set up a shoot with her. i first ran into her in a strange way: the same day we booked the shoot, i was dropping off some film and had a sneaking feeling that the gal ahead of me in line was none other than jasmine. i was too nervous to approach her, in case it wasn’t. turns out i was right! intuition, wtf?

later, when we met for real. jasmine  was sweet and charming (and so stylish!).  our photoshoot day was such a pleasure!  while living in sd, i went through bouts of feeling lost, and it was so nice to find a fellow canadian!

the photos from that day are some of my absolute favourites from my seven-years-and-counting modeling “career”. later, jasmine was kind enough to do some photos of my mom and i that still make me happy.

(i have this one framed)

recent etsy favourites

here are two items i have recently fallen in love with.

this sacrificial lamb wall hanging.

this carefully worked, beautiful, morbid piece evoked fragments of this poem:

For a Lamb
-Richard Eberhart

I saw on the slant hill a putrid lamb,
Propped with daisies. The sleep looked deep,
The face nudged in the green pillow
But the guts were out for crows to eat.

Where’s the lamb? whose tender plaint
Said all for the mute breezes.
Say he’s in the wind somewhere,
Say, there’s a lamb in the daisies.

the other piece is so carefully worked and beautiful. it’s a listing for a custom beast of burden sculpture. i have no idea what my beast would be–possibly an equine or ungulate or mystical combination animal. i love the flowering horns in these beasts (it’s a feature in one of my tattoos, so no wonder that i’m a fan). these sculptures are so delicate and lovely!