Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Out of the Woods

So dear Gracie is out of the woods. She actually came upstairs to lie on my bed this morning! Now, getting back down those stairs was another issue altogether, but she is making steady progress. The vet still couldn't say for sure what caused the paralysis, but he was leaning towards a spinal embolism. She should recover completely we hope. Thanks for all your kind words and good wishes.
Two more marine critters are finished: the seal and a grey porpoise. Just the sea lion to go, and the rest of the rhumblines, and I can unveil the whole crazy thing.

P.S. I see some Russian android has been using Pinterest to visit this blog hundreds of times in the last couple of weeks. Wonder if anyone else has noticed this. Is it dangerous, do you think?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On Hold

Just as things seemed to settle down a bit - the guests out the door, new housemate moved in - my dear Gracie has had a health crisis. Within one day she went from happy go lucky pup to complete paralysis. She has been at the vet's for two days and there is still no diagnosis but the likely culprits are a neurotoxin (possibly picked up from eating compost), a spinal embolism, or atypical Addison's disease. The good news is she is increasingly alert, eating, and peeing again. We're hopeful that she will recover.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Summer Read

I am midway through a ravishing read: Edmund de Waal's "The White Road." Oh, if only I could write as eloquently as he does - I recognized so much of my own passion about the Codex Canadensis project in de Waal's obsession with porcelain. I have recommended this book to everyone I meet, gushing: "It's all about white, believe it or not, and the most fascinating book I have encountered in goodness knows how long!"

I was surprised to find reviews ( i.e. from the Guardian and the Globe and Mail to reference a couple of the more positive ones) were somewhat ambivalent. But then again, those reviews were for a general audience. I think what de Waal does so brilliantly is actually capture the approach of an artist who thinks deeply about materials and process, and has spent a lifetime learning, developing and refining that approach. This book will resonate with artists and craftspeople in particular - anyone who has not devoted a good chunk of their life to making things may be bored stiff, and wonder what all the fuss is about.

You might imagine my delight when it turned out the first section of the book features a French Jesuit missionary, Pere d'Entrecolles, who traveled to China 300 years ago! A contemporary of my dear Louis Nicolas! And there is much to be learned in the comparison.
 "The imperative to write was central to the Jesuit's mission... .Writing was an act of self-reflection, a catechising of yourself before God... . You are God's spy abroad in a new world. You are a witness. Write it down. Write it down with exactitude."
d'Entrecolles appears to be a much mellower and more diplomatic missionary than Nicolas, though. He ended up staying in China for the rest of  his life, converting souls, but mostly researching Chinese porcelain production. de Waal brings d'Entrecolles to life by retracing his path through modern-day China, guided by a photocopy of the Jesuit's original notes. He mixes past and present as a metaphor to illustrate the transcendent beauty, lightness and fragility of porcelain, and its enduring ability to enchant through the centuries.

This book has bolstered my faith in my own work, and offers renewed inspiration. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in how things come into being, both philosophically and materially; who loves lush, poetically elegant writing; and/or who makes things themselves.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Back to Normal

 Okay, the census job is finished, the convergence of guests has dispersed, and the moving of boxes and re-arranging of furniture is almost done. I am looking forward to breathing again. And stitching. The poor marine mammals have been in the hoop for so long I had to spread the cloth out to see where I'm at. The great whale is nearly complete, then just a sea lion, a porpoise and a seal to go. And the windrose or navigational lines.
It is nice to sit out on the deck and stitch. Jasmine, heliotrope and sweet alyssum wafts in the breeze, and hummingbirds dart and hover.