Sunday, August 01, 2021

White rabbits!

"Rabbit rabbit rabbit" is a superstition found in Britain and North America wherein a person says or repeats the words "rabbit", "rabbits" and/or "white rabbits" aloud upon waking on the first day of a month, to ensure good luck for the rest of it. πŸ‡πŸ‡πŸ‡πŸ‡πŸ‡πŸ‡πŸ‡πŸ‡

Source: courtesy of Sheryl MacKay, host of CBC Radio’s North by Northwest 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Grass widow

I am listening to the audiobook version of Robertson Davies’ novel Fifth Business, and he used the term ‘grass widow’. I’d never heard this expression before, so paused to look it up. 

According to Mirriam-Webster, a grass widow can mean:

- a discarded mistress

- a woman who has had an illegitimate child

- a woman whose husband is temporarily away from her

- a woman divorced or separated from her husband

It feels very archaic... and it is. The first known use was in 1699 (the illegitimate child). 

I’ve also seen more modern definitions in which the grass is a metaphor for a golf green, where one’s spouse might disappear to. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Indigenous Storymap

Cool project.

Douglas College Geography Department Lab Technician Sasha Djakovic spent over 4 years mapping Indigenous territories for the Province of British Columbia and presented his work as a StoryMap.

View the story map here

Saturday, March 13, 2021


It’s a good day: I learned a new word. A CBC radio interview about a new podcast, The Apocrypha Chronicles, introduced me to the word.

Apocrypha refers to something hidden or secret. It comes from Greek and is formed from the combination of apo (away) and kryptein (hide or conceal). 

The word was first applied to writings which were kept secret because they were the vehicles of esoteric knowledge considered too profound or too sacred to be disclosed to anyone other than the initiated. Today apocrypha refers to works of unknown authorship or doubtful origin.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Alice Koller

 An Unknown Woman by Alice Koller became best seller, but to me it was just a pivotal book that I enjoyed immensely. 

Interestingly, I ‘discovered’ it when it was sitting atop a stack of books in a bedroom in a decorating magazine. I liked the room, and became curious about occupant, so pulled out my magnifying glass and copied down the title and author. Bizarre but true. 

Her story of selling everything, getting a dog and hiking up in a cabin on the beach in Maine in the winter appealed. *

I was thinking of the book today, on International Women’s Day, and looked to see if it was on Audible, sadly not. Though I probably have a copy around here somewhere ...,

In the process,I discovered that she passed away in 2020. Alice Koller dead at 94 - New York Times

*As a side note, I also enjoyed May Sarton’s Journal of Solitude, penned in a similar setting.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Canada Reads 5/5

I am all ready for Canada Reads 2021. It was only a week or so ago when I realized that I wanted to read all five books prior to the debates this year ... and I finished the last one last night. I listened, via Audible, and that’s what made it possible (otherwise I’m a slow reader),

Which is my favourite? It’s hard to say, as I enjoyed them all. They were all so different! I could see any one of them winning. I confess my heart lies with Johnny Appleseed. Not only is it a truly great book, at this time of Truth and Reconciliation it gave me a greater understanding of the indigenous experience in Canada, which is important to me. As the Canada Reads 2021 is a book to transport you, I am not sure it will win, if the panelists take that theme literally. If that’s the case, Butter, Honey, Pig, Bread really did that for me, as I really left Canada. I could make a case for the others too. 

Should be more fun to lister to the debates this year. 

Monday, March 01, 2021

Legend of a Mind

Tonight I am listening to an especially good concert recording, the Moody Blues at Red Rocks. Recorded in 1992, the band was accompanied by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. I’m listening for free on Apple Music. It’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it. 

What drew me to post was the Timothy Leary’s dead lyrics. The psychologist and 60’s LSD advocate was actually alive at the time the song was first recorded in 1968 on the In Search of the Lost Chord album. 

There’s a good backgrounder on 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Acropolis gets a lift

For when the world travels again, there is good news for accessible travel in Greece: the Acropolis has a new lift! 

A big step up from the rattly construction cage that my sister and I fanangled our way into back in 2009 (her walking stick came in handy for negotiations!).

This is a real glass-walled elevator. Atop the crop there are accessible pathways to allow wheelchair users to move around. I say kudos to the Greek government for making this happen, especially during COVID times. Until travellers return, I am glad that Athenians are able to enjoy more of their precious sacred site, pleasantly sans-tourists. 

Read more in Ekathimerini

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Zoolook evocations

Zoolook album cover

There are so many people in my life that I always thought would be close friends forever, that I have lost contact with. I used to think that this meant that I was lousy at maintaining relationships, but at the moment I am seeing my life full of these moments of great connection, each so powerful in their own way, all touched me in some way. As I meditate as I am listening to Zoolook, they are coming to mind, each for awhile, before my attention turns to the next who my thoughts evoke. At this moment, I am reflecting on how these people make me understand the me I was at that time. I see them in my mind's eye as still essentially being the same people now, but older... but that's ridiculous; each could be something quite different today. Probably are. I am completely different, so why not them? It's interesting to consider that they probably think of me the same way too.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Keith Haring meets Doc Marten

 If you love Keith Haring’s art, and like to sport Doc Martens, this is for you.

The famed footwear brand has partnered with Keith Haring’s estate to create a line of Keith Haring Doc Martens. 

Read more on Art News.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Operation Night Watch

I was listening to a podcast not long ago and learned many interesting things about Rembrandt's Night Watch. So much has come to light about his technique, and the many instances he changed his mind and painted over spots. All this is thanks to modern day technology.

That's only half the story.

When I started to draft this post, I turned to Wikipedia.

What really caught my attention was the image size choices, as I generally select the largest size for use in my blog. Here's what I saw: 287 × 240 pixels | 573 × 480 pixels | 917 × 768 pixels | 1,222 × 1,024 pixels | 57,813 × 48,438 pixels. "Wow," I thought, then I wondered why.

Here's the story:

On May 13, 2020, the Rijksmuseum published a 44.8 gigapixel image of The Night Watch, made from 528 different still photographs (24 rows of 22 pictures stitched together digitally with the aid of neural networks). Created primarily for conservator scientists, by making it public the Rijksmuseum has opened the virtual door for anyone to see the master's brushstrokes.

Never before has such a large painting been photographed at such high resolution, and it is still a work in progress. In total the robot will take more than 8400 photos at an extremely high resolution of 5 microme-tres, or five thousandths of a millimetre.

Operation Night Watch - Rijksmuseum

Thursday, January 28, 2021

A toast or two

Best Bar Moments in Venice

I was watching a show last night, a food competition, and one of the judges said the dessert took him back to Harry’s Bar in Venice, where the Bellini was invented. It was one of those few times where I got transported too. Remembering that I had blogged about it, I pulled up the post. 

Ah, yes... what I hadn’t remembered was that the doodle I did, while sitting at the bar, is still in my possession. As is often the case, when someone asks about my doodles, I had offered it to the bartender. I had forgotten that he would only make a photocopy of it to keep, that he refused to accept the original. 

While the memory of my overall experience is strong, I realize I might enjoy seeing this on my wall. I suppose I now have a mission to find the original, to frame it. Once I do so, it will evoke good memories. 

While I do have small objects gathered on my epic 2009/2010 trip (a cushion cover, a small leather pouch, a little knife, etc), I never did frame the things I intended to. A result, perhaps of not having my very own walls, until a year ago. Now I feel home. Now I am inspired to do so. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

So, the world apparently needs me

Came across this in my journal, written in Florence, in 2009. Kind of an interesting coincidence...

Three times in the last week or so, I have been told, “The world needs you.” - twice in these exact words yesterday. 

One was the guy who owns the Il Papiro shop and let me make my own paper, then chatted with me for a long time on his craft. 

The other was after I met Alesandro, the artist I met a few days before and went back to visit yesterday (I bought him a gelato and we chatted for an hour or so).

The other was the palm reader in Roma - though not in those exact words.

This is something I am reflecting on.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

French Man Bequeaths Money to Hermitage Cats

 I trust you have heard about the cats that reside in the basement of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia?

On the off- chance you haven’t, there are 50 of them, and their job is to keep the rodents at bay. They have three caretakers and their very own Press Secretary.

Now a Frenchman has donated a tidy sum to pay to for their care an needed upgrades to their abodes. Although he has been named in some media, he made the donation anonymously and prefers to stay that way. 

Whoever he is, I like his kind heart.

Read more in the New York Post.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

So glad to be out of the travel industry

Every day that goes by, I am more relieved to be out of the travel industry.

Yes, it was fun for awhile, and aside of the fact that it left me broke (avoid this field unless you have a pension, spouse or are mortgage-free with cash reserves), I did learn a lot. I met a lot of interesting people, planned some great trips and stretched myself, but it is best that I have moved on. My initial relief came early-COVID, when the industry was desecrated, but I am so glad to not be part of what is happening today. 

I feel sick to the stomach every time I hear about someone off vacationing in the sun. Are you kidding me? What are you thinking? Even if you don’t care about yourself, how dare you risk others with your privilege? While others stay home and act responsibly, doing their part to put an end to the pandemic, what makes you think it is “ok” to satisfy your own self interests? I am less angry than confused. I am baffled and truly don’t get it.

So it is with this perspective that I am glad I am not being asked to help people book flights. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t live with myself. 

I have been feeling this for awhile, but it has been magnified in the last few days as I have been receiving targeted marketing for tour operators offering packages complete with COVID and quarantine insurance. Get away, feel safe with all these protections, there has never been a better time to go, blah blah blah... WTF???? 

It turns my stomach.

I get it that all businesses are doing their best to survive and rebuild, but this is despicable. 

I could have never sold travel in this environment and I know now that it would have been toxic to me to be around this all the time. 

So I am more than done with the travel biz. I’ll never go back to it.

Any travel in my future will simply be my own, when it is safe to do so. And it will probably be modest and close to the ground, organized by me, myself and I. 

What I miss most about travel is the simple stuff, hanging out like a local in cafes, staying for a month or so somewhere, soaking up the vibe, seeing a museum or two a week, living the experience. 

I am in no hurry to travel though. This is a time to lay low, and be patient. For now, I savour the many travel experiences I’ve had. There is still a lot of enjoyment to be had there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

US Capitol art damage

Despite the outrageous assault on the US Capitol, damage to the artworks in the historical building was surprisingly minor. Curators have been on the ground inspecting the damage and starting restoration, but it could have been so much worse.

I can’t decide whether the thugs didn’t know what they were surrounded with (so paid no attention to the works) or did know (and restrained themselves)... probably the former, but who knows. But I am always glad when art is protected.  

Read more in this topic:

New York Times

Art News

Monday, January 11, 2021


I love a new-to-me word. Recently, it was semaphore. 

Around New Year’s Eve, I was telling a colleague about the time I was living in downtown Vancouver, in a high-rise, and on New Year’s morning I saw a woman’s long, elegant evening gown flapping in the wind, perhaps thrown aside near the window in the wee hours, where it slipped out, and then caught. It was the old BC Hydro building, so there were no balconies, so I don’t even think they knew it was there. I always imagined the confusion and mystery they ensued.

My colleague said, perhaps it was a signal known to few... perhaps it was a semaphore.

Courtesy of Britannica

Semaphore, method of visual signaling, usually by means of flags or lights. Before the invention of the telegraph, semaphore signaling from high towers was used to transmit messages between distant points. One such system was developed by Claude Chappe in France in 1794, employing a set of arms that pivoted on a post; the arms were mounted on towers spaced 5 to 10 miles (8 to 16 km) apart. Messages were read by telescopic sightings. Modern semaphores included movable arms or rows of lights simulating arms, displayed from towers and used to signal railroad trains. Semaphore signaling between ships, now largely abandoned, was accomplished by persons who held a small flag in each hand and, with arms extended, moved them to different angles to indicate letters of the alphabet or numbers.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Cincinnati's unused subway

 It’s almost beyond belief: the city of Cincinnati sits atop a 2.2 mile subway system, complete with tracks and stations, that has never gone into service. 

Construction was put on hold in 1920, when resources were diverted to the war effort. Afterwards, priorities shifted and the project was abandoned. It seems there has never been the public interest or political will to resurrect it. 

Even today, as the city plans for transportation, it is building a streetcar system. Yes, above ground, on top of those unused tunnels. 

Read more on Atlas Obscura.

Monday, January 04, 2021

David Hockney's pool-less lockdown

David Hockney is spending his COVID lockdown in his home in France, sans pool. So what does the artist who is known for his iconic paintings of pools do with his time? 

"This year 2020 I have just been working on my iPad depicting the arrival of spring, which will be shown at the Royal Academy in London in March 2021 and in October at the Orangerie in Paris. This is 118 pictures but I have gone on making them and will finish up with about 200 for the whole year...” [read more].

Friday, January 01, 2021

Happy New Year 2021

I'm attempting to resurrect my blog, without leaving Blogger. I have a new iPhone and it seems I finally have a device I can create on. Will see how it goes. SO glad to see a new year. I am not alone in this sentiment, I know. Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Blogger frustration

I am beyond frustrated with Blogger and the fact that they forced everyone to a new platform, and removed the old platform. Why?

What I have loved about Blogger is that the interface has been so simple, and the application so easy to use. It's so easy that I have sent many non-techie friends to the platform to create blogs. And I enjoyed that myself.

Imagine me hitting a wall in which I simply CANNOT  blog anymore using my iPad. AT ALL. It is so frigging frustrating. At a time when I have an extremely low tolerance for things not working.

Technical issues that used to roll off my shoulders now cripple me, cause me to freeze up ... often barely holding on and saving myself from screaming with anger and throwing things, including my technology, across the room.

This is the COVID me, I think I am discovering. My patience has been crippled, it is gone. Things not working make me want to break down in tears. So illogical when I think of it, but it is what it is.

I recall when technology stopped frustrating me, back in 2001, when I got over my fear of technology (when I was learning how to develop e-learning at a conference, in a hands-on workshop of over 200 IT specialists, when no one around me stressed when technology failed... I stopped panicking after that, anytime I hit a technology wall).

Technology frustration only began seeping back into my life a couple of years ago, when I no longer felt tech-savvy, but out of touch and out of step. It happened once I stopped being able to replace my technology on the fly... When something didn't work in the past, I'd eliminate whatever was blocking me by simply buying a new laptop. It's how I ended up with 7-8s that I was to give someone to fix and give a new life. It's how I ended up with multiple overlapping Norton subscriptions that renew automatically and protect nothing.

That slowed down to  when my iPad started crashing from low memory. And I realized I couldn't afford to replace it. I began to tolerate slowness, switching to another device or pastime, while I waited for something to finish or a screen or app to unfreeze. And I entered an uncomfortable limbo.

But what recently pushed me over the edge was Blogger's shift to a new platform. Well, it's not so much the new platform, as it was when they removed the "old Blogger", which they had left functioning for the longest time.

I was OK with the "old Blogger"... I was even OK with it not being supported, because at least I could still blog. 

Now, with the old Blogger killed off, I cannot blog from my iPad. AT ALL. I cannot even draft a post on my iPad to finish later. Nope, nada, no can do. It's how I wrote so much of my content, grabbing a URL or a quote from a website, and starting a post to finish later. Now that ability is gone.

Even as I started this post - using the 'new' Blogger on an ancient laptop I hate to use - I thought my solution was going to be to TOLERATE the new Blogger. But even that has changed.


At least with the old Blogger I could write words, fast, and watch my screen catch up. This DOES NOT HAPPEN WITH THE NEW BLOGGER! There is some new stupid auto-save function that STOPS REMEMBERING WHAT YOU ARE WRITING while it goes and saves the post. What you type during that 'interlude', even if it is just a few words, disappears into the void. WORDS ARE LOST.

The whole thing is so PAINFULLY S-L-O-W!!! The above paragraph took 30-40 stops and starts to write. It's bloody ridiculous.

So, what I thought would be a post about frustrations that I was going to work around has turned into a resolution new blogging platform.

After 17 years. What a shame.




Sunday, September 06, 2020

Beep Beep

It had my name written all over it, so of course I had to buy it. It was very good.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Now selling on eBay

A long time goal met... I have now listed some of my art on eBay!

Saturday, August 22, 2020


A podcast episode that popped up in my feed this week was immediately interesting to me. Given my ongoing interest in missing people, and a side interest in people who choose to disappear, it's notable that I hadn't heard of Johatsu and the Night Movers before. Enjoyed the podcast and did more reading on this elusive story...
Tokyo's johatsu are said to disappear into the Sanya district's streets
In Japan, if you want to disappear from your life, you can just pick up the phone and a ‘night moving company’ will turn you into one of the country’s ‘johatsu,’ or literally ‘evaporated people.’ You can cease to exist. Meet the people who choose to disappear and the people who are left behind..." [listen to the podcast on the BBC].
Of the many oddities that are culturally specific to Japan — from cat cafΓ©s to graveyard eviction notices to the infamous Suicide Forest, where an estimated 100 people per year take their own lives — perhaps none is as little known, and curious, as “the evaporated people.”... [read more in the New York Post].

There is a book on the phenomena, entitled The Vanished (by LΓ©na Mauger). Sadly, there is no audiobook and before paying crazy prices before buying a used hardcover, I checked out the reviews.... and they were not very good (Goodreads reviews).

Actually, there are two. The other, entitled The Night Movers (by Shou Hatori), has done its own vanishing act... can't find it in any form. Hmmm. It's a shame, as this guy was a night mover.

Aspiring authors: there is a book here! Just be sure to include an audiobook.

Japan's 'evaporated people' have become an obsession for this French couple - story and podcast
Do Stressed-Out Japanese Really Stage Elaborate Disappearances? On the Trail of the Johatsu or 'Evaporated People' - Time
The chilling stories behind Japan’s ‘evaporating people’ - New York Post
Rulebreakers: How I Disappear - BBC: The Documentary Podcast

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

COVID Diary 4

Just had a moment where the multiple traumas and tragedies of late began piling up. The Beirut explosion, the Red Deer doctor attack, so many crazy things happening in this world. For the most part, I have been compartmentalizing ok, but had a wave of emotion hit me when I saw two photos in my CBC Radio stream.
The one that pulled at my heartstrings was this classroom photo of little kids in school, sitting with masks on, at their social distanced desks, so much of their natural spirit controlled, like invisible walls. Not being able to move, to squirm beyond their invisible walls, I can almost see the regimented ways the must need to move about their school, how orderly they must need to be on their breaks. Sad eyes over masks. How tragic. Snuffing out the kid in kids. I am not a parent, so have been learning at an emotional distance about what they say will be the long term effect of COVID on children. But somehow this one picture got me, and I cried. It feels so SAD to see the natural life spirit of kids snuffed out in the very environment they go to be with their friends, to learn, where it used to be an hour or two where they would need to sit controlled before recess, but always still witin note-passing, ruler poking and spitball throwing distance. These kids will be changed by this in ways we cannot be imagined. 30 years from now adults will be struggling through therapy to untangle complex issues. I can't imagine being a parent and needing to navigate all this. And how hard this must be on teachers. They are just little kids.

The other picture was of the arrest of activist Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong. It is just so grim. It says resistance IS futile in any world where China has any influence. What struck me was the faces of the officers that surround him, eyes downcast, in resignation. I want to say in shame, as that's what I imagine I see.

There is more going on, and mostly I cope, but occasionally things pile up and it all hits me. I think the fact that I don't have TV, and don't stream it online, has protected me, by not searing iages of people in hazmat suits into my brain. I think its a wise choice, as I still get plenty of news and analysis and human stories through radio and podcasts. But it also lets images like these stand out, to not pass me by.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

A man, a wild boar and a birthday suit

A must-listen podcast episode from What It Happens:
That boar has that man's laptop!
Listen to the CBC story here
The birthday suit boar chase in central Berlin was caught on film by Adele Landauer. You can listen here.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Recent art

Realize I have been posting very little of my own art of late. I'm always meaning to get better pics, sign or watermark, list for sale, blah, blah, blah... so post very little. BUT I have been creating like crazy, mostly on blank playing cards, and involving stamp collage. I'm in the ACEO arena here, and will probably sell as such on eBay soon. Might even dust off my old Etsy store. But, for now, creating and not worrying about all that.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Artists Documentation Program

I have always been fascinated by the work of art conservators, so this captured my attention. It was mentioned briefly in a podcast or radio program (I forget which), but I did manage to jot down the program name to it look up. 
Conservators of contemporary art face unique challenges. Unlike old masters, contemporary works are often materially ephemeral, time-based, interactive, or conceptual. In restoring these works, conservators rely heavily on documentation of an artist’s materials, techniques, and intent, frequently needing to consult the artist directly. When an artist is no longer living, the available information can become quite scarce.
To address this problem, conservator Carol Mancusi-Ungaro conceived of the Artists Documentation Program (ADP), in which conservators interview artists in the presence of their artworks, in order to understand their materials and techniques. The ADP creates a lasting record of an artist’s attitudes toward restoration and exhibition of their works–a “living will” for their work. Founded at the Menil in 1990, with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation..." [continue reading on the ADP website].

Artists Documentation Program (ADP) - official website (interview video access)
Artist Documentation Program - Menil Collection (since 1990) - International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA) blog

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Roll Call: Lady Butler's first

This week I learned about an artwork with an interesting history that otherwise would have passed me by, thanks to Malcolm Gladwell's podcast.

The Roll Call (officially Calling the Roll After An Engagement, Crimea), an 1874 oil-on-canvas painting by Elizabeth Thompson Butler (Lady Butler) was a first, depicting army forces exhausted and depleted after a battle. At the time, soldiers were only portrayed pre-battle, pristinely groomed and brave. This little-known female artist changed all that.

Thompson was just 26 years old when she submitted the painting to the Royal Academy, and it was an instant hit. Butler wrote that she awoke and "found myself famous". Queen Victoria insisted that she should buy it, and the work remains in the Royal Collection, hidden from public view.

In the inaugural episode of his popular podcast, Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell visited the painting in London and shared his learnings. In particular, Gladwell explores the 'first' nature of the work, and the fact that the artist has remained largely unknown. It's a good listen.

The Lady Vanishes - Revisionist History episode