More Flower Photographs (Since My Mom Said She Likes Them)

When I planted a few seeds in May, I pretty much just tossed things wherever, and didn't worry much about planting the seeds at the recommended distances.  I figured if anything came up, I could just thin as necessary.  The parsley seeds in the garden turned out to be a bust, although I don't think this is my fault.  My landlady takes care of the lawn and has also done some work in the gardens--including top-dressing with a load of fresh soil directly on top of my tiny little parsley sprouts.  So no parsley.  But I have a box full of skinny little chives, and a barrel of cosmos.  The container gardening is working out surprisingly well for me.

The cosmos are a few inches high, and looked like they needed more space.  I decided to try transplanting a few of the extras into the garden (where my parsley should have been...), rather than just pulling them out.  I don't have much in the way of gardening tools, so I dug up the plants with a kitchen spoon.
This bit of ancestral silverware (the everyday cutlery at home for many years when I was little, and then I inherited it when homesteading during university) worked quite well as a gardening utensil.  And I could entertain myself taking spoon/plant pictures:
Besides putting some of the cosmos in the garden, I also planted a few in cups.  This is grade-school science project gardening, by way of a keg party:
If there are any survivors, I may try turning one into a house plant.  For now they look cute tucked on the bottom of the porch railing:
A few of the moonflowers I planted have sprouted as well, although they are really quite small still (as are the cosmos, in all honesty).  Dawson gardening lesson learned: start seeds indoors early on, or the summer will be half over before they are more than three inches tall.  Fortunately I like macro photography, and the moonflowers have great veins.
The other plants are doing well.  The garden is a wilderness of daisies--so many that they choke out all the other weeds.  But it's not all daisies.  I don't know what kind of plant this is, but it is gorgeous:
Even in bud-form it looks lovely:
There are these crazy long petals that grow off towards the back.  This is the sort of thing that will start walking around and eating us all after nuclear armageddon.
 I also really love the new foliage on this ornamental maple:
The rose is still going strong, and has put out two new blooms.  It is actually getting big enough that I think I should prune it.  Except that I am nervous to prune it.  Roses seem like one of those plants that require actual gardening technique; I'm afraid that if I prune it wrong, I'll lose the whole thing.  I'm growing rather attached--besides being so pretty, it was a present from Ben--and would hate to kill it.
His mint is still going crazy.  It's a total jungle, with the chocolate and orange varieties threatening to overwhelm the spearmint and peppermint.
According to one of my sisters-in-law, it's "big" that Ben moved his mint in, but really it reminds me more of a little kid who begs and begs and begs to get a puppy and promises that he'll feed it and walk it and brush it every day and please please please can I have a puppy canIhaveapuppy canIhaveapuppy???  Except that once little Rover is part of the family, it's Mom who ends up doing the walking and poop-scooping.  Ben has watered it a couple of times, and will sometimes make himself a mint julep, but really I'm the one responsible for the mintbaby.  It's hard to complain, however.  The watering (when necessary--we've had more than enough rain lately) is rather relaxing, and I have been drinking gallons of mint water.  So tasty and fresh!  And mojitos are definitely going to happen this weekend...


Meat & Potatoes #37

It was definitely nice to be back on the air this week--although it was quite a different show than usual.  I was required to play nicely with others, as I had two trainees in the station with me: Aiden and Kiera.  They will be taking over a Saturday late morning/ early afternoon slot, and I had to put them through their paces on the board today.  As I usually treasure my radio show as a form of alone-time, in which I get to impose my will upon the universe by making other people listen to the music I want to hear, it was an adjustment to stand back and teach people to run "my" show.  After thirty-seven shows, I definitely have a particular set of radioing habits...  Not that the music they chose was out of line with my usual taste; it just wasn't all me me me.  And I like my radio show to be all me me me.  It's my weekly gift to Dawson.

We played:

  1. Kid Koala--Vacation Island
  2. tUnE-yArDs--Little Tiger
  3. LCD Soundsystem--Dance Yrself Clean
  4. Mr Little Jeans--The Suburbs
  5. Braids--Lemonade
  6. Janis Joplin--Try
  7. Talking Heads--And She Was
  8. Joanna Newsom--The Book of Right On
  9. Neko Case--Hold On, Hold On
  10. Andrew Bird--Tenuousness
  11. The Tallest Man on Earth--The Wild Hunt
  12. Tom Waits--Hang On St. Christopher
  13. Chad van Gaalen--Willow Tree
  14. Woods--Blood Dries Darker
  15. Belle & Sebastian--Get Me Away, I'm Dying
  16. Roy Acuff--The Wabash Cannonball
  17. The Replacements--Waitress in the Sky
  18. The Staple Singers--I'll Take You There
  19. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings--I Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In
  20. Gladys Knight--I Heard It Through the Grapevine
  21. Cake--Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town
  22. Hank Williams III--You're the Reason
  23. Dave Rawlings Machine--To Be Young (Is to be Sad, Is to be High0
  24. David Bowie--Heroes
  25. TV on the Radio--You
  26. MGMT--Electric Feel
  27. Cadence Weapon--Baby I'm Yours
  28. DJ Format--Ugly Brothers
  29. Paul McCartney--Maybe I'm Amazed
I was running things solo as of The Staple Singers, and tried my hand at another upside down drawing of a record album.  I may do this every week, although this week I should probably apologize to The Spectacular Johnny Horton.  This is my second attempt (which is actually better than the first):
 And the original:
And obviously if I'm going to do this every week then I have to play a track from whatever album I'm drawing.  Johnny Horton, just how spectacular are you?


I have never thought of myself as good at drawing.  It is either despite this, or because of it, that I took the recent drawing workshop hosted by artist-in-residence Teodora Zamfirescu. Or maybe I'm just a workshop addict--I do try to take them all, scheduling permitting.  The workshop took place over three Wednesday evening sessions, and while I am not certain at all that I improved, I did enjoy myself.

The first task was to do a drawing of your life, as a means of introducing yourself to the group (theoretically less boring and awkward than the usual go-around-the-room).  Some of the workshop participants took this figuratively--two people just wanted to draw question marks--but I was pretty literal.  I had no problem picking out the key items:
My cabin and garden, my car, the radio station, KIAC and Bombay Peggy's (complete with red lights by the door), a helicopter (rather than paperwork) for my job.  My boyfriend just outside the cabin, with me and my books and laptop inside.  Teodora also asked us to include an aspect of a recent dream, and because I rarely remember my dreams, I could only come up with something inappropriate, hence the two people kissing in the idea bubble.

Later in the evening, we worked on upside down drawings as a method to train ourselves to "really see."  My second attempt at a copy of Teodora's line drawing of Matthew Barney in the Cremaster Cycle (an excellent choice of subject matter...) turned out pretty good:
Our homework was to practice upside down drawings; I practiced at the radio station during my show, using album covers:

One exercise from the second week had us using brush and ink to draw by feel.  Teodora gave each of us an object in a plastic bag and we had to draw the textures without looking at the object.  I had a gross plastic axe.  The largest one is the sight-unseen version, and the two smaller ones were done during week three, when we could look at the object:
Our last drawing in class was a mish-mash of the exercises done throughout the workshop:
In this drawing: various texture techniques, part of an upside down drawing of a Frank Cole movie poster, the axe, and drawing with a foreign object (ink and wax paper).  I wanted to fill the whole upper part with textures but of course ran out of time.  My favourite part is the stippling:
Detail oriented and repetitive--just my kind of thing, apparently.

Over all, I don't think I can say that I am actually good at drawing.  But I do think that part of this is a mental block: my drawing is often more cartoonish than I would like, and I let myself get caught up in repetitive abstractions rather than forcing myself to practice more figurative techniques.  It really is a matter of practice; I'm sure if I did a drawing a day I would be better at it eventually, and perhaps come close to the style I wish to have.  But I wouldn't want a drawing a day to distract me from my workshop whoredom.  And I like my John Steins print to hang in it's usual spot:
I am a little proud of my budding art collection--I could claim it's curatorial work, after all.


I don't want to say that I'm over the whole 24 hour daylight thing, but this year I went to bed at 11pm on the 21st.  I've done the stay-up-all-night thing before, and just didn't feel the need this year.  It was a crazy week, with work, meetings and multiplying commitments all making me feel tired and old.  A good night's sleep--as good as I could get, considering just how bright it is in this cabin with its thin curtains--was more valuable.  I did snap a picture from my "desk" (the sewing machine table with my laptop on it) as I sat up reading resumes on Wednesday night.  At 11:04 pm, there was still bright sunshine out:
And yeah... the window doesn't stay open on it's own, so I use a rolling pin, and my grandmother's crystal lives next to a random cracked mug, some Ikea candle holders and my Donna Akrey sculptures.  I don't quite have the shelf space to display my objets d'art appropriately.

For comparison, here's a photograph from 2008, taken at 1:52 am:
Sunset-ish down at river-level, but up on the Dome above town it would have been even brighter.  The settings on the camera actually make it look darker than it was.

I was more diligent back in December, when experiencing my first winter solstice in Dawson.  I didn't manage to take a photograph every hour like I planned, but did get a few.  This is 10:18 am on December 21, 2010, before the sun was up:
I had to dress like this to go outside to take photographs:
It was only -31 outside--cold enough but not too bad.  At 12:36, the sun was just above the hills south of town:
And then the sun was pretty much set by by 4:36 in the afternoon, although the roses that Ben brought for me kept things cheery inside:
Looking at these dark photos it helpful for perspective: I shouldn't really wish these long summer days away, because once they're gone, there is a long succession of long winter nights to follow.  It's the balance and cycle that keeps it tolerable--and being able to go Outside and get away from it every now and again.  Going to the beach in January--even if it wasn't a tropical beach as such--cures a lot of things.
Botanical Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on Vancouver Island was chilly enough to require toques and scarves, but it was still fabulous.  And lovely to see the family--that's my brother, his wife and their baby-in-a-backpack watching the waves.


Meat & Potatoes #WTF

Well... technical difficulties down at the station today, apparently.  The transmitter and web streaming were both down, so no radio show this week.  I hadn't realized just how deeply it's-Sunday-therefore-I-radio is engrained in me; it was very disconcerting to think that I should be on the radio when I wasn't.  Very disconcerting, but also productive:
Two extra hours in the evening gave me time to finish my Diane Kimono Dress.  Which I then wore out to a late dinner with Ben and got all wrinkly.  And it's clinging to my ass funny because it's raining and cold out and I had to wear tights.  And cotton tights + cotton dress = nothing good.  Details to follow.


Slowly but surely...

I started making my first quilt back in January.  I actually cut all my strips the same weekend that I hosted a party in my cabin, made a three minute (grand prize winning!) short film for the 48 Hour Film Competition, and helped my boyfriend with camera work for his film.  Oh, the joys of unemployment.

I purchased my fabrics from this shop on Salt Spring Island when I was hope for a post-Christmas visit.  I really liked this jelly roll quilt that was on display in the shop, but didn't want to just buy a selection of pre-cuts.  I wanted the fun of choosing my own fabrics, especially since I was in an actual physical quilt shop and not just buying off the internet.  I browsed one day, and then a couple of days later went in to put things together and make my big purchase.  The lovely woman (whose name I do not know, alas) who made the quilt I liked was there and she gave me so much advice--a crash course in quilting, and lots of help pulling my fabrics together.  We pulled many, many bolts off the shelves and in the end came up with a selection of fourteen different prints, with three co-ordinating solids for the backing.

I cut five two-inch wide strips from each of the fourteen prints, and made five sets of strips, each containing one strip of each fabric and with different arrangements of fabric.
I then sewed each set together, first by sewing the prints into pairs, then joining two pairs and so on.  Then I chopped things up.  This was scary!
There are three different widths.  If I am remembering correctly, I was aiming for finished widths of 2, 4 and 6 inches (I may be wrong, and am too lazy to measure right now).  Then I opened up the futon--the futon saved my ass during this project, as there was no other possible space--and laid things out.  This isn't my finished layout, but it's close:
This actually only took four of the five blocks I made.  The extra block was insurance in case of mistakes, for added variety and for a pieced detail on the quilt backing:
Laying everything out for basting was crazy.  I had to move the futon under the window--it just squeezed in beside the heater--and move the big basket o' knitting as well as my "end tables" (plastic bins once used for keeping things organized in the car when I was more of a travelling girl) out of the way.  So messy, and just barely enough space in which to baste.
I used a basting spray, which worked out quite well.  I would definitely use it again, and that's not just because I have a big can full of the stuff. To get my seams lined up front-to-back, I held the quilt up to the sunlight and used the see-through affect to my advantage.
I decided to hand quilt this bad boy.  I discovered while piecing that I am not a fan of big long seams, and wrangling lots of material through the sewing machine.  I love chain piecing: all those short seams, so conveniently made one after the other, turing out like a little strip of bunting.  Also, I wanted to get a really good dollars for enjoyment ratio out of this project.  The fabric cost a small fortune (although I did end up with plenty of leftovers for pillows and whatnot), and this being my first quilt project, there were some start-up costs as well.  Hand quilting means extending the process, and taking my time--getting as much pleasure out of the materials and the making as possible, before I start to enjoy the finished object and start casting around for something else to make.  In addition to, you know, all of my other works-in-progress.

I haven't paid much attention to how the progress is coming.  I'm probably about a third of the way through, but refuse to count how many squares and rectangles I have left.  There is no goal: just something to pick up and put down as the mood strikes me.  It sometimes even gets used as a blanket, even in its unfinished state.


The Failure Skirt

My third skirt for the Summer of No Pants challenge was not nearly as successful as the first two.  I decided to up the stakes this time, and cut into my light corduroy.  I added piping, and installed a zipper.  I did some beautiful and perfect top-stitching on the waist band.


It looked terrible on me.  Completely and spectacularly unflattering.

I had tried it on part way through the process, and while it was maybe a little loose, I thought that would just make it comfortable.  So I kept sewing, and did a really good job of finishing my seams and all that jazz.  When it was all done except for the hem, I tried it on and got my boyfriend to snap a quick picture to see how the hem length was doing.  The look was so bad he actually seemed reluctant to show me the camera.  I deleted the two shots immediately.

I really need to get a full-length mirror for the cabin if I am going to keep sewing clothing.  It may sound stupid, but it never even occurred to me that having one would be useful.  I haven't looked at myself in a full-length mirror on a regular basis in nearly a year, and I'm almost starting to miss knowing what I look like.  In terms of the actual Failure Skirt, I discovered that I either need to go with a loose, full kind of skirt like the first two I made, or something quite form fitting, like a few skirts I have in my closet.  The Failure Skirt is in-between and it is bad.  I used the "straight skirt, fitted waist" variation from Sew What! Skirts.
Nothing against the book, really.  It's just not the right style for my body.  I tried to save it by chopping off the waistband, taking out my (practically) perfectly installed zipper and adding a thin elastic waistband.  And subsequently discovered that a thin elastic waistband does not work, either.  The fabric is a little too thick and stiff for it to drape properly; this was also a problem with the original zipped version.  I am planning on switching out the thin elastic for a wide one and finishing the hem with a zig-zag stitch.  But...  not right now.

Setting up the sewing machine and ironing board in this tiny cabin just really takes over the whole house, somehow.  It's hard to get in or out the front door, and it totally impedes kitchen-related activities.  You could probably fit my entire cabin into Anna Maria Horner's recent studio renovation, and still have space leftover for shuffleboard.  It gets stressful having all the sewing gear set up, and I can't handle it this week.  It's so busy: besides my usual commitments, I am putting in extra hours at work learning some pretty complicated shit (not my heli company but an example of one of the machines I am learning a lot about).  I now know about scissor and sleeve assemblies, and I am not talking about sewing.  So a last-ditch-effort fix on the Failure Skirt has been set aside, and plans for a fourth pantless project have also been set aside (cutting out pattern pieces doesn't count), until chaos on the home-front feels manageable.  In the meantime, please admire the good job I did on the piping:


Monday Night Dinner

I recently ordered a copy of The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook out of a desire to eat better and get more pleasure out of the act of cooking itself.  I haven't made very many recipes out of it yet--my enthusiasm for cooking varies greatly from day to day, and when I have things set up for sewing it's pretty much impossible to use the kitchen--but the few recipes I have tried so far have turned out well.  I am looking forward to trying more.

I have two big grumbles, however.  The first is that the book really needs some menu suggestions.  I find it just... hard to navigate, somehow.  It would be helpful to know which recipes pair well together, and are perhaps easier to cook in conjunction.  So far I feel as though meals made from the cookbook manage to use every single dish in the kitchen (and have been difficult to coordinate time management-wise).  Or maybe it's just that I don't own enough pots and pans...

The other issue is that The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook is really written for an audience that lives in a Big City.  My town may be called a city, and back during the gold rush you could get all sorts of spectacular luxuries and delicacies (it was "The Paris of the North"), but these days you have your choice of two little grocery stores with a fairly prosaic selection of food items.  Everything travels a great distance to get here, and is priced accordingly.  There is a farmer's market in the summer, with as short a season as you would expect.  Our summer is intense and brief.

So... reading in The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook that one should "seek out the very best of local, regional, preferably organically and naturally raised products" is frustrating.  The author, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, often recommends seeking out ethnic food stores--as though everyone has a Lebanese or Greek supermarket just a few blocks away.  It's just such a different lifestyle and world-view.  For all of Jenkins' globe-trotting, I don't think she's every really lived anywhere terribly remote.  There are places in this world where you only have a choice of one brand of olive oil.

Grocery shopping for dinner tonight got me thinking about local versus exotic foods.  Yukon dog mushers often feed their sled dogs salmon because it is found in such an abundance (or was; the local fishery is in trouble as so many are).  And you can get these in the grocery store:
Exotic down south, but certainly a Dawson barbecue and bonfire staple.  They're really very good, if rather pricey.  While not exactly in line with the principles of a Mediterranean diet (which recommends very little red meat), it was a great dinner.  I had snap peas, tomato wedges and grilled zucchini on the side.  This may be one of the only times in my life that I have ever eaten zucchini voluntarily, and it may happen again soon.  I actually liked it!  I put it on the grill at the very end and cooked it quickly, so it was nicely blackened but still firm.

I took advantage of having the grill fired up and, thinking of tomorrow's dinner, threw a few other things on as well.
These peppers and eggplant are for a chilled salad from the book that I have wanted to make for about two weeks now.  I just had to wait for the eggplant to arrive from California!


Meat & Potatoes #36

Tonight I played:
  1. Van Morrison--Astral Weeks
  2. Holly Miranda--God Damn the Sun
  3. The Beta Band--Round the Bend
  4. Owen Pallett--Lewis Takes Off His Shirt
  5. Blur--The Universal
  6. Oasis--Don't Look Back in Anger
  7. Pulp--Common People
  8. Denison Witmer--Champagne Supernova
  9. Cat Power--Wonderwall
  10. Mott the Hoople--All The Young Dudes
  11. Them--Here Comes the Night
  12. The Lovin' Spoonful--Summer in the City
  13. Regina Spektor--Summer in the City
  14. The Be Good Tanyas--What Are They Doing in Heaven Today
  15. Great Lake Swimmers--Pulling on a Line
  16. Jefferson Airplane--White Rabbit
  17. Bob Dylan--You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
  18. Janis Joplin--Summertime
  19. Roberta Flack--Compared to What
  20. Amy Winehouse--You Know I'm So Good
  21. Eartha Kitt--Angelitos Negros
  22. The Tallest Man on Earth--I Won't Be Found
  23. Chad VanGaalen--Sara
  24. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit--Alabama Pines
  25. Hot Chip & Bonnie Prince Billy--I Feel Better
  26. Duck Sauce--Barbara Streisand
  27. Lykke Li--Get Some
  28. Cadence Weapon feat. Shad--Baby I'm Yours

Another late "night" garden shot

Outside at 11:53 pm:
I wanted to work a little more on my composition, but was getting eaten alive by all the mozzies.  Nevertheless it certainly gets the point across: it's so light out!


I don't know what it is...

...but it sure is pretty!  I am loving taking photographs of it all (although there are a few mystery flowers out there--I am not so good at identifying).
After a spell of hot weather in May, June has been cool, with patches of clouds and rather frequent rain.  Everything is very green, and even the seeds I planted are finally poking up through the earth.  These little green nubbins are the (particularly exciting) first signs of the chives:
There are irises in bloom:
And the formerly indoor rose is flourishing outside--not only just lots of new foliage but also new flowers in progress:
There are wild roses, too:
And there are all sorts of lovely mystery flowers.  There is a shrub covered in dozens of these tiny pink flowers:
And these are all over the place:
These yellow flowers are also on some kind of shrub:
The mint on the porch is rampant--especially the orange mint: 
And whatever this plant is, it sure has interesting foliage:
It may even be some kind of thistle; the stem was quite spiny.

There are also poppies and fireweed, and lots of daisies and columbine (maybe) and delphiniums (I think).  Also weeds.  There are many weeds.  I'd say that I would take care of that this weekend, but I did get roped into working tomorrow and I have agreed to do some writing for What's Up Yukon this summer that needs to get started this weekend and we're working on residency selections this Sunday and I have my radio show to do and a sewing challenge to live up to, plus some reading I really want to get done, so...  Weeding is a little low on the list, I guess.  However: admiring the flowers remains high on the priority list.