Monday, June 29, 2015

Motivation without talent

It would probably surprise most of my friends to learn that every morning I read the sports pages first. I am not a fanatic about any particular sport but I find the variety of technical and personal stories very interesting. Last year the paper I read (The Globe and Mail) hired a new sportswriter named Cathal Kelly. His first assignment was to cover the World Cup in Argentina. He writes brilliantly and I laughed and cried while reading his stories about soccer and the experience of traveling within the country.

I often read aloud to George from his stories, no matter what the topic. Today I was anxious to find out what he had to say about Canada's women's soccer team's loss to England in the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup. Here's the sentence that made the front page of the paper.
This team was proof that motivation without talent is as useful as a parachute without shoulder straps.
That's going on my wall. 

You can read the whole article here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stupid men saying stupid things

First there was this.

Then there was this and a lot more like it - a backlash to the backlash. I began to wonder if I was over-reacting.

Then there was this. To put it in context, the Canadian Armed Forces have just received a report on sexual misconduct in the military. The report, prepared by a retired Supreme Court judge, stated that a cultural shift was required to address the very serious issues she identified. Coincident with the release of the report a woman who had been invited to speak to Royal Military College cadets about sexual consent reported that she had been met with disrespect which verged on harassment. It was months before she received an apology.

I'm not over-reacting. Stupid men who say stupid things must suffer the consequences of their actions. As a rule, I don't believe in punishment but if that's what it takes to get those men out of leadership positions and warn younger males that they must change their behaviour, then I'm all for public shaming, job loss and anything else it takes.

Edited to correct the links. Make sure to check out the second one for an example of the apologists for Tim Hunt.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cooking chimpanzees

I may be easily entertained but nothing delights me more than a well-designed research project. It is even better when the responsible scientist is well-spoken and can explain they whys and hows of the experiment. All of those pieces came together today when I listened to the CBC program Quirks and Quarks. The 'whys' concern the development of cooking in human evolution. The 'hows' involve determining whether chimpanzees can comprehend the fact of transforming food through cooking.

You can read the original paper (it is very well-written and easy to understand), or a summary for the general population, or listen to the interview that I heard.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Numbers redux

90 letters cut out of the sandwiches.

89 pieces cut to size, 1 mistake.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Numbers, neobladder advice and soup

Ninety of these, using various letters.

Ninety of these, with careful attention to which colour went with which letter.

Approximately 480 ends to deal with over about 5 hours.

Yesterday I received a hard copy of a small publication called the Pipeline, prepared for members of the Urology Nurses Association of Canada. Months ago my incontinence nurse, after listening to me babble about all the things I had learned while dealing with my new bladder, suggested that I write an article for the Pipeline. She subsequently added an introduction and the two pieces appeared as the feature in the June 2015 issue. It was weird to receive it. Those days seem like they were years ago even though it was only a few months. You can read it here. In the unlikely event that you know a neobladder patient please pass along my advice.

In the mood for soup? Try Lemon Parmesan Asparagus Soup.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

HDMGG - June 9, 2015

All eleven boxes (ten large, one small) are planted. It is still pretty cold but it is time to be an optimist and get the garden started. There are eight Roma tomatoes (to be roasted for tomato soup), one eating tomato, two golden cherry tomatoes (for snacking), four red peppers (to go with the tomatoes in the soup), one orange pepper for eating, three tomatillos, six basil (for the freezer), one oregano and one thyme. There is still room for three more peppers.

Everything is pretty much the same size as when I bought the plants a couple of weeks ago. The tomatillos have been growing though, and there's actually one fruit on one of the plants.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Effects of yoga

I started taking yoga classes about three months ago. I have never taken a class before but true to how I tackle most projects, I started with a commitment to three classes per week. I know that that's the best way for me to learn something and develop the muscle memory which will help me sustain the activity.

As an instructor I am committed to remembering what it feels like to be a novice. The first six weeks of yoga classes gave me a good reminder of the emotions and struggles a newcomer encounters when trying something completely new. I now feel like I understand about 80% of what goes on in class and that's enough to make me comfortable. Note that I can't necessarily do all of the poses, especially the ones that require good balance, but I am getting better week by week and that's my only goal.

After about a month of classes I noticed a big change in my sleep patterns. I have never slept well - I usually woke around midnight and had difficulty falling asleep again until 4:00 am. Since I get up at 5:00 am that didn't leave me many hours of sleep.  For the last few weeks I have been sleeping many more hours at a stretch and am usually able to return to sleep when I wake. Someone recently asked me what I thought contributed to the yoga effect. I had, of course, been thinking about that. And my conclusion is that yoga has given me the confidence that I can relax enough to return to sleep. Savasana has been most helpful in that regard.

One of my instructors uses a three part phrase during the start of savasana. I started to use that when I woke and it was helpful but not quite right. Since I am fascinated by the development and use of short phrases to summarize effort or meaning for my students, I decided to develop my own hendiatris to help me get back to sleep. I think I have perfected it: Settle, focus, surrender. 

I have learned something interesting that I had never noticed before. It turns out that I clench my fists when I am struggling to get back to sleep. Once I made that observation I started to open my hands in the same way I do in savasana. That is often the last thing I remember doing - I go back to sleep almost immediately.

Right now I am at the point where I miss the 'awake' time because I used to accomplish a lot of things at night - drafting articles, making lists etc. But I recognize that sleep is healthier for me and I am starting to notice changes during the days. It seems like I have more resilience - I am able to stick with a single task for longer. I don't think my overall productivity has changed but I accomplishing more in fewer hours.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Numbers again

22 letters, 1 space.

Delicious rhubarb curd or how-to-magnify-the-caloric-value-of-rhubarb.

Food for your eyes and brain.

INGER JOHANNE RASMUSSEN. Retold Stories from Inger Johanne Rasmussen on Vimeo.

To learn more about her collaboration with the writer Terje Nordby, go here. You will see images of her work which are accompanied by Nordby reading his text aloud in English.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

SAQA Structures Show, Part 1

Last night I attended the opening reception for our SAQA region's juried show. The theme for the show is Structures and consists of 24 pieces by 19 artists. There were quite a few people at the reception and they seemed to enjoy the artwork. I learned a lot. There is nothing like seeing things on a white wall and well lit. Those circumstances draw attention to lots of decisions which need to come together to make an effective statement. Missing the mark on just one of those decisions can make a big difference to the end effect. 

I will write more about how I perceived the reactions to at least one of my two pieces. But first I will show complete images. Here is a full length and detail shots of Photo 51. It is 42" tall by 30" wide and is wrapped around wooden stretchers which means that it sits almost two inches off the wall.

My artist statement says it all. 

Photo 51 
This is a story of both social and physical structures. In 1951 English chemist Rosalind Franklin took a position as an X-ray crystallographer at King's College, London. The university establishment did not welcome women and her male peers were openly dismissive of her expertise and experience. An X-ray photo that she generated was removed from her lab without her permission and was ultimately used to confirm the molecular structure of DNA. RosalindFranklin did not share in the Nobel Prize for the discovery. Contemporary quotes are fromVittorio Luzzati, James Watson and Rosalind Franklin (l to r).

The quotes at the bottom of each panel read as follows:

Left: They had a common room which was forbidden to women . . . It was not the kind of life you would like to have anywhere.

Center: Clearly Rosy had to go or be put in her place. The thought could not be avoided that the best home for a feminist was in another person's lab.

Right: Conclusion: Big helix in several chains, phosphates on outside. . . . Phosphate links available to proteins.

Friday, June 5, 2015

More numbers

I am heading to Antigonish later today for the opening of our SAQA region's second juried show. The theme is Structures. As the regional rep, I have had the privilege of seeing images of all of the selected quilts. It is a good show and better than our last in 2012. Ultimately that's what we want to see - improvement over time. I will deliver some remarks at the opening and will be proud to highlight a few of the artworks which were nominated by the juror for special attention.

After the opening I will post images of my pieces which are in the show. I consistently work to avoid 'pretty' in my work and I definitely succeeded this time. I was honestly surprised to learn that my entries had been juried in. It will be interesting to see them hanging in the context of all of the other pieces.

At home, the strips were transformed through washing and drying.

Then they were cut into 90 5.5 inch squares.

Also, 36 blue squares, 24 dark green, 24 light green, 6 yellow and 12 red.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Quilting by the numbers

I'm back. I have intentionally been absent from the blog. My reasons run along the lines of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". Even though the snow has melted the weather has been miserable and my mood has been equally bad. It is still cold and rainy but things are now green. The light this morning was beautiful - a lovely yellow green because it had been filtered by the emerging leaves on the oak tree outside my studio window. I stopped my machine and went to find some fabric to match it. No photograph could reproduce the experience so the fabric was the best that I could do.

I have been remarkably productive in spite of my mood. I will catch up with a series of posts.

To start:

30 7" x 22" inch strips of Kona Cotton layered onto similar size strips of wool/rayon felt

24 lines of straight stitching on each strip

2.75 inches of prepared strips

2.25 pounds of prepared strips

The strips have now been transformed in several ways. I will describe that (with numbers) in subsequent posts.

For your entertainment. I have watched this over and over.

5 m├Ętres 80 from Nicolas Deveaux on Vimeo.