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Friday, March 25, 2011

Laundromat - part 2

I thought I'd be back earlier to finish telling how it is for me doing my wash at the laundromat but sometimes life gets busy and well, honestly, sometimes I just get too lazy and then it also seemed so non-important. This time it was a mixture of all three.

I've spent a good part of the last month recording a sci-fi audio book. I've done it before but have never found it to be as arduous as this particular book. Not only is it Sci-Fi, but hard-core Sci-Fi, so lots of technical terms, lots of explaining how things work, and what they are for. I found it hard to read and many times my tongue would get twisted with words such as names of antibiotics such as like flucloxacillin and nitroimidazole and metronidazole, and those were all in the same sentence. Besides making the editing a long process, it also made it not the most fun to read. I had started to record in December, and now am finally done.

In between all of this, Japan had a major earthquake. I woke up that Friday morning to the news about the giant quake and how a tsunami was due to hit Hawaii in the following 20 minutes. I have a friend that lives in Hawaii, exactly where they were saying it would hit. I was devastated. The first thing I did was burst out crying. When you hear something like this, your heart breaks first before your mind comes around to remind you that they had plenty of warning and do not take such warnings trivially. Obviously, she was not online, they had to leave home for higher ground. I watched the news directly from Hawaii online, refreshing every few minutes. Finally they did not get the waves that were expected and most of the damage was to Maui and mostly to some piers. No people were hurt. Great Relief.

After the quake and the subsequent tsunami hit, I was stunned and coming here to write about the laundromat seemed so trivial; so not important at all. So what am I doing here and why am I writing it afterall? Well, I figure that major events will always overshadow the mundane bits of everyday life. That doesn't mean that everyday life cannot be interesting. People watch reality shows because they want to see life through someone's else experiences. They want to compare their lives with those of others. When I go to the laundromat, I compare who I am and my life with the people that go there.

As I said, in my previous post. I decided that since I couldn't yet afford a new washer and I'm due for a new dryer also, as the one I have, has a defective timer, that I would do my wash, once a week at the laundromat. I have found one great advantage of doing my wash there; I can use 3-4 machines at once and within an 1 1/2 be done with it all for the entire week. How about them apples?

I also am curious about the people. Most of the people that wash their clothing there are Native-Americans. They are mostly quiet and go about their chores and smile and are polite. There is a student that is a regular. He's mostly there on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. While the clothes twist and spin, he reads a book and doesn't make a peep. Once dry, he simply stuffs them all in a big bag, without folding them and leaves.

Then there are 3 regulars (non-native) that always seem to be hanging around and never seem to have any wash to do. The second time I did my laundry there, one of them comes up to me and asks to see my Kobo (my ebook reader). Once he sees that I'm reading in English, he's like oh, I can't read English, never learned etc., He was missing several teeth I think, although I really couldn't see in his mouth, but I was having a really hard time understanding him. I live in a town where you need to speak and understand French or you will find it difficult to get any service, anywhere. But here, all the words seemed muffled. I felt bad asking him to repeat, but I couldn't understand most of what he was saying, until, he got mad and starting yelling about his lottery tickets and how he hasn't won yet and then he started to swear in French, Crisse de tabernac, je gagne pas, et Hostie, j'ai des projects, Crisse! (Basically, swearing that he hadn't won anything with his lottery tickets and that he had all these huge projects and how was he going to do them if he didn't win). I understood all that, but was feeling quite intimidated and just nudged my shoulders up and down a few times as if I didn't understand what he was saying and he finally decided I wasn't worth the trouble to talk to and left in a huff.

Now, this guy and another always seem to be there when I do my laundry. It doesn't seem to matter if it is Tuesday or Saturday, or Wednesday. They are never there the entire time, but always pop in to scratch lottery tickets. They both are not very clean-looking and seem to spend every nickle and dime they have on these tickets. Obviously, once in a while they win something, but mostly it is free tickets, or money to buy more tickets. They sit at the tables that are meant for folding clothes, and scratch away. I've seen them come in with cans they have picked off the street and in garbage bins, and wash them in the sink, to bring into the d├ępanneur (convenience store) to get enough money to buy one more ticket. It is sad. I do understand that it is a sickness, but it is still sad.

Then there is a woman that is also always there. She looks homeless but apparently is not, but is indeed poor. She's also not quite right in the head. She talks a lot. The first time I saw her, she talked to me non-stop even though I tried to bury my head in my ebook. I try to be polite, but she's telling me personal stuff about her life. I'm not talking about someone saying "Hi, my name is and I live around the corner, I'm a writer or an accountant etc., .. no, this is more along the lines of my neighbor slept with this guy and I told her she's an idiot and then she starts getting anxious and talking about her ex and how she kicked him out and about money and it just goes on and on. Now, people can tell me things, and not much surprises me anymore because humans are well, human. We are flawed and we can be good and bad all in one person. But when someone, you've never met in your life comes up and starts giving you intimate details about their life, it makes me put up an invisible line in front of me as a barrier. I smile and point to my kobo and how I've hoped to read and she leaves me alone. Sort of. Every week, I come and she's telling anyone that is there, the same stories, over and over. They never change and she always gets anxious at certain parts. There are moments I want to hug her, like a child and say.. shhh... it will be alright.. Calm, baby, calm. And then there are moments, I want to throttle her and say, please, for the love of god, shut ... up! See, told you we are all flawed. I do feel bad for her though, as I see she doesn't spend her little bit of money on lottery tickets or booze. When she has some, she buys herself something to eat. I do not have a lot of money, but I certainly am not in the same situation as she is. She's a bit hyper and always searching to talk to someone and tell them her story, so she tends to go outside and back in and then into the convenience store to see if there is anyone there she can tell her story to. Sometimes, while she's out, I "forget" a 2 dollar coin near where she's sitting, so that she'll get herself a hot soup and not feel like she's a charity case. I think the hardest thing about having little money is the sense of losing your pride and having to ask people to help you out. She's never asked for money and I try to make it so she just thinks she's been lucky that day. Makes me think of a Quebecois movie "Seducing Dr. Lewis" (La grande s├ęduction) where they leave 5 dollar bills on the ground for the doctor to find, so that he feels very lucky. I do not, however, do the same with the 2 men, as I know it will simply go to another ticket and nothing more.

Each time I go, it is very different. Wednesday evening, this week, it was very quiet. The lady was there, talking about the same things as usual but nothing much happened. Someone left and forgot a bag of items and had forgotten them there. I brought them to the cash and let them know in case he came back. When I was leaving, he was just returning to see if his bag was still there. He seemed relieved that they were with the cashier and that nobody had left with them. The week before, there was trouble, but not at the laundromat, but inside the convenience store. I was alone in the laundromat (actually the very first time that had happened) and I heard some very loud shouting going on. At first I thought it was kids outside, but it turned out it was in the store. 3 guys, 2 natives and a white man and (it's the lady from the store that told me what had gone on) but two of them came in, then a 3rd came in and accused one of them of stealing his money and then a couple of bottles of beer ended up on the ground crushed and there was loud yelling. The police were called in and they all took off. This is the same lady that had made a couple of drunks leave the very first time I went to do wash. She told me that usually she's fine, but that today, she'd really been frightened. Poor her, and it was her birthday to boot.

So, there you go, that's been my laundromat adventures so far. I promise, next time to talk about something else! :-)

Before I leave, I leave you with an image I played around with today. When I was in Sweden, I had knit a scarf for Janne. He proudly modeled it and then for fun, started posing as a boxer. Heh. I knew one day I would want to play around with the image and today I did. At first I only wanted to play up the way he lifted his eyebrow only on one side, and make it more surreal but then I was tempted to give him a black eye as the other eye was almost all closed. I figured, hey, he's been in a fight, he should have a bleeding nose.. and maybe a bit of blood coming from his mouth. Then I didn't want him to look like a victim, so he needed blood on his hands because for sure, the other guy got it good too. It ended up pretty bad with blood smears all over the place, but we had a good laugh about it and I thought I would share it here.. Enjoy!

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Laundromat - Part 1 -

Since the 5th of January, I've been doing my clothes at the Laundromat.

Janne came here for the Christmas holidays and on the evening that he was leaving, he asks if we could do a small load of wash so that he won't have to bring home any dirty clothes and believe me when you do the trip from here to Montreal, cross the ocean and 2 more airports before arriving in your country and then after that another 3 hours before you get home, you arrive so exhausted even the thought of taking a shower is too tiring. Once you wake up the jet lag hits you and you walk around in what appears to be a drunken stupor and the last thing you want to be faced with is a suitcase full of stinky clothes.

So, although I wished he would have asked the day before, I do agree it's a good idea and put the clothes into the washer. The water runs and I put in the soap and I go upstairs and we have dinner and then I go down and what is waiting for me? A washer full of wet and soapy clothes that doesn't want to spin, it doesn't want to do a small twirl, it doesn't want to do anything at all! Oh, geez.. everything is soaking wet and in 5 hours Janne is on a bus to Montreal and here we are stuck with a broken washing machine.  I'm not very happy because now I've got to go to the laundromat and get this wash done and I would rather spend our last evening together doing something slightly more fun and romantic.

When I get to the laundromat, it is around 7 o'clock and there is a lot of people. I first need to get quarters and then I would hope just to rinse and spin them but no, there is no way to break the  cycle. It's a one or nothing deal. So I rewash everything and then I dry them there as the machines are big and dry much faster than my dryer.

That evening at the laundromat included a bit of drama. The machines are at one end and towards of the front are a few folding tables and right next to the door is a small table with 4 attached seats which appear to be thrown out of a restaurant like McDonalds.  At the back are a couple of young girls doing wash together, then a few couples with children and at the front, at this little table next to the door are 2 guys drinking beer.  At first I didn't realize it was beer but one of them had spilled it all over the the table and floor and  the suds from far made it look white but as the bubbles died down, you could see the clear yellow liquid. They are not doing wash, but it is cold outside so they have come in to drink their beer here.  It is not their first beer, it may be their eighth or their twelfth or more as far as I know; I can now see they are pissed drunk.

Everyone is sort of minding their own business and going about doing their wash when these two start fighting . They start yelling at each other and I can't tell you what was being said as it was probably in Cree but it was clearly an argument.  They both get up, one holding himself steady with the table and the other simply drops his bag full of king-size beers and then  proceeds to fall right on it.  There is beer and broken glass everywhere and he doesn't appear to be hurt but has broken glass all over his coat. Normally if someone would fall down, your first instinct is to go to their aid, but I'm frozen in my spot as not only are they drunk, they are angry.

The laundromat is attached to a convenience store and the woman working comes in and
very calmly tells them to leave.  I was quite impressed. This is obviously not the first time that she's dealt with this type of situation. She knows how to keep it under control. She talks with confidence and authority but not harshly. She doesn't scream and does not seem excited. She tells them that she has called the police and that they will be there in a few moments and that they should now leave. She even shows compassion when she tells the man that is attempting to get up to watch out and  to not hurt himself getting up, to be careful of the glass and to please leave before the cops get there.  She took a bad situation that could easily have gotten seriously out-of-control and snuffed out that fire.  They left and everyone let out a huge sigh of relief. Sadly for her, it was not quite over; she was left with their mess to clean up.

Basically, my washing machine was  kaput and to fix it would  cost too much as it is already very old, so, although this bit of brouhaha, I decided to return  here until I have enough money to afford a new machine. but to come earlier in the day when there is less chance of drama.

To stop this from becoming a novella,  I'm going to stop this for today and come back in a day or two to continue my laundromat experience. :-)

oh, I've also taken a pretty photo of some raspberries as they were too beautiful to consume without showing them off a bit.  Taken on my kitchen counter with a bit of black construction board behind.... who says you need a studio?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feeling alright! Oh yeah,

I caught some bug and was sick for several days, but now I'm back and good as new. I won't bother you with the details as it makes me think of old people at Tim Hortons, having coffee in the morning and each one-upping the other with how sick they've been, their spouse has been, what aches and pains they have, what their cholesterol levels are and slowly and methodically going through the trials and tribulations of their health problems. I want to shout at them, being old doesn't mean that your only adventures left in life are figuring out your medical mysteries. Well, at least they are out having coffee and meeting friends instead of staying stuck in their homes.

Valentine's Day was almost 2 weeks ago. Janne got me a beautiful bouquet of red roses and pink and white tulips ( I adore tulips!) . I know, I know, everybody today says, "Valentine's Day is just commercialism and has nothing to do with love and is just a marketing ploy". Yes, it is but I could say the same thing about Christmas. Not much about Christmas has to do about a savior baby being born or about its pagan origins, but we still give gifts to the people we love simply because, for one moment, we put the brakes on our feet that are always going at 100 miles an hour and we take time to let someone know that we love them. To me, Valentine's Day is a moment like this. Ignoring the holiday to stick it to the industry seems sad to me. It's not about the flowers or the chocolate or the price they cost; it's about the attention. Obviously, it doesn't have to be something that is bought. It can be a poem, a nice supper or a massage. Yes, you can still do wonderful things for your sweetie all year long, but I guarantee you, saying "You already know I love you so let's just ignore this holiday... may get your wife or girlfriend's response of "Yeah, sure, no problem" but actually, most of us would feel let down. What do you expect? " No, you must spoil me today? "

The flowers were beautiful for several days and as they started to wilt, the roses gracefully bowed their heads down low and turned the color of black cherries. The tulips, spread and twisted their petals and I could watch their ballet, a last dance.

My tribute to the dancers:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's been such a long time.

Wow, I haven't blogged in almost a year.

I've been thinking about it though. So much has happened in the last year for me photography wise and also I think I want to write down some thoughts that come to me just during my daily life that I'm just too darn lazy to write down in a proper journal.

Last year at this time, I was breaking my back trying to sell online and although I had a bit of success, I found it very difficult to get people to actually see what I was offering. It makes me laugh when people complain that someone has hijacked one of their images while I'd be happy that someone just gets to see them.

I put stuff up on etsy and basically worked my butt off re-sizing and creating thumbnails, adding realistic mats and showing how they would look framed. I got a friend and artist from the US to print my images as I hoped to be able to circumvent the expense of postage to the US.

I was lucky to get listed on a blog where people had to vote for your etsy site and during the week that the blog listed my etsy shop, I received several orders. Then nothing. Why, simply because I couldn't be found after that. You are trying to sell the same type of items that hundreds of thousands of different people are trying to sell. Once you upload your new images, within a moment, they are already on page 20 of new arrivals.

When this contest happened, I asked everyone that I knew to visit the blog and if they liked my work the best to vote for me. One of the people that visited and bought something of mine wrote me and asked why I wasn't on the list for artists in the region where I live. I hadn't realized that our town had during the year, opened up a website where we could show our works. So I joined.

A couple of months later, I was contacted to ask if I would participate in an Art festival in our town. It would be a week of visual artists, writers, musicians etc., and it was to be small and intimate, each artist participating 2 hours and showing & explaining their work to the public. It was very last minute. The woman called and said they were sorry to call so late, but due to a mistake they had not contacted me earlier. She called on a Friday afternoon. I was asked if I could participate for both Thursday and Friday evening for a total of 4 hours.

I told her I wasn't sure as I had to check to see if I could get my work printed in time. I got in contact with Brooks (he did my printing) and asked if he could ship me several images ASAP, but he didn't feel comfortable doing it as he didn't know if they would lay in customs and not get here on time. So I decided to print them myself. I ordered the best paper available and a couple portfolios and hoped for the best.

My portfolios didn't arrive on time. I then bought poster board to separate my works and brought them with me like that. I was very nervous. I hadn't really shown my work to anyone in our town; everything I was doing was online. There was another photographer there, a belly dancer, an artist that recycled objects to make different things with them, a sculpture and a jewelry artist. When I got there, I was given a table to set up. I started to set up and then the coordinator came by and asked to see my work and she was amazing. She got me two long tables, each 8 feet long and covered them in black velvet cloth for me to display my works. During the next 2 hours, people came round and talked to me and were so great. I sold 8 large photographs that evening. Mostly winter scenes from the mining village in my town. The nervousness went away and the joy of talking with people and getting their feedback was amazing. I felt they liked my work and they liked me too and it just all felt very good.

The next evening there were not many people. It was extremely hot and muggy and people were not coming into the tent as there was little air. I still sold 4 large photographs that evening and a smaller one to the coordinator. She would have liked to get a bigger one, but since it was taken before I got a better camera, I couldn't upscale it without ruining the quality. She encouraged me to participate in a program our town has to rent out our work for a year and get some exposure. You have to offer up 3-4 items and if accepted, your work is shown at a special evening where companies taking part come and rent work to be placed in a public area. If chosen, you receive 100$ for the year to show each item. When the time is up, the work is returned to you. There are many more art pieces than people renting so there is no guarantee you will be chosen.

I pondered if I wanted to do it or not since I was offering up photographs, they had to be properly matted and framed. You cannot simply drop a standard frame (well you could be that would be stupid) I value what I do and print only with the best materials, archival quality papers, inks etc., and they had to be museum quality. If they were paintings, I could just make sure the edges were painted and be done with but instead I knew it would mean an investment. Hey, if I can't believe in myself, how can I expect anyone else to, right?

So I went to a small gallery/framing shop and asked questions about how much to frame, mat etc., It was not inexpensive but I was interested. I asked if he took artists on consignment and he said, sadly, no. He had a list of artists that he worked with but he couldn't just put anyone's work up as all the artists would want their work displayed. I asked if I could come back with some of my work and we would choose what type of matting and frames I would take . A few days later, I went back (armed with my portfolio that had finally arrived). He took his time and looked through them and to my surprise said "I love these" and would be happy to put work up on consignment. Not only that, he'd frame and mat several pieces and put them on his gallery wall. Wow.. you can't know how good that felt.

So just after this I got 4 pieces chosen to be rented out. I don't know why I get so nervous at these affairs. I guess it is a bit like they are your children and nobody wants to hear anything bad about their children. When you try to show people your voice and vision, it comes from within you. What you show is who you are. I guess deep down we just all want to be loved. The artwork was displayed and people were roaming around looking at them, writing down numbers and choosing what they liked and hoped to get.
There were some really gorgeous pieces. I talked to a few of the artists that had participated in earlier years and everyone was telling me not to get too excited or discouraged, that not many pieces are chosen and many people don't even get a piece chosen at all. That night between almost 40 artists, 120 odd pieces were being shown and only 37 pieces would be taken. The odds were not good. Ouch. After cocktails and the viewing, we all sat down to await the choices. The different companies and corps etc., were chosen at random from a jar and whoever was chosen then gave their first choice.
First choice out of the box was for a Law Firm and they chose a beautiful piece by a guest artist named M. Plante. Beautiful. When the 3rd card was pulled, it was the Toronto Dominion Bank. They chose a piece of mine. I'll upload photos later.

A few more pieces and the Physiotherapy Clinic from our town had chosen again a piece of mine. Wow, I must have been blushing for sure. Then a 3rd piece was chosen to be placed in the offices of the Art Curator for our town. My 4th piece was not chosen but was sold to be put in the private home of the buyer.

It's been a bit of a whirlwind for me. They are not selling like hot cakes, but each month that goes by, I sell a couple of pieces from the Gallery. I've also sold a few pieces to a woman from Ottawa that buys and sells art. Just last month, a piece of mine was bought to be given as a art and culture prize to the Centre de Musique et Dance. Seeing one of my photographs in the newspaper was quite a thrill for me. :-)

I've learned a lot in the past year. I've learned that I shouldn't have waited so long to put myself out there. I've learned that although it is scary, no guts, no glory so I 've learned to trust my gut. Online contests are fun but getting a lousy score on something you feel truly shows your vision is not something to cry about. As an artist, you have to believe in yourself. You may like what I do or you may not, but I don't want to put out what I think you'll like; I want to put out what I love and what I want you to see. That's all I can do. No pretending. No trying to replicate what someone else, that is successful, does. Just me. Just my experimentation with the media to try and show you how I felt at that moment. Not exactly how it looked, no. I want to show you what it was that made me take a picture of it to start with. Not how Jo Blo may have seen it. Not how someone else thinks it should look. I try to find what spoke to me about it and then give it my voice.

More soon I hope.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Help me out please

I need your help.

I just got nominated for Shop of the Week on an Etsy Blog site and this would really help me out.

I've started selling my photographs and paintings on Etsy since about a month, but only have had one purchase so far. Thing is, There are a gazillion shops on Etsy and to find me is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.

This website is the blog

if I win, I will be be showcased as SHop of the week which potentially would bring me viewers and possibly sales.

As soon of you know, Zeedaam, Zee.. or puff like you may know him does my matting and mounting, so supporting me is also supporting him.

Thanks so much

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Fairy, She's done! okay,

okay, I hunkered done tonight and got her finished. I like how she turned out, very young and fresh looking just like spring. If you want to see her closer, please just click on the image above.

I have already uploaded her to my etsy shop, if you are interested in purchasing her.

My etsy shop

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More more done, finally

Please click on the fairy to see her actual size I uploaded and probably clearer. :-P

well, I've been a bit lazy, but finally last night I did get to work on my fairy a bit more and then chatted with Judy. Judy is a friend of mine and she lives in Hawaii. She's in the process of knitting all these woolen caps and scarves. Apparently it is very "in" right now to wear them, even though they live in a tropical paradise. In my mind, the heat and the wool should make their heads explode but Judy says it's not so bad. She's using a kind of a loom to knit and it is going very fast. Way faster than when I made a scarf last fall that took me a while week! and that is several hours a day. Anyways, she is going to try to see if she can make baby booties and stuff so she can sell them on etsy or at the local hospital. She's not trying to get rich or anything, but extra money also means she can afford some camera goodies. If she does start to sell online, I'll give you all a link here to check out her stuff.

As for my fairy.. well.. I hated her hair, but after fiddling with it and continuing to draw it, I rather like it now. I didn't want her to look too old, because she's my spring fairy, so I thought it would be appropriate to have her have hair like a young and innocent type of teen (are they any more of those around?) Anyways.. this is fantasy, right? I've also added most of the stamens for the flowers and some of the leaves. I'm in no hurry, so no pressure.. an hour here, an hour there.. and soon it will be done. I really would like to create a book or fairies and/or fantastical beings.. so I need to be more prolific if I want that to happen.

I am also trying to sell my wares at etsy. (my website)

ok, that may be it for today.. unless I work on her some more and post again. We'll see.