The act of seeing.

32067258414_1541740521_c32786286641_10d616dab3_c32786287661_cd35bd220d_c32910112885_d79109cc8e_c32910111175_8a99c60f39_c32910112615_d26c722f8a_c32756363592_62915730ce_c

Odds and ends on film. Right now it is windy and clouds are being pushed past my window quickly. I’ve been busy working on a section of my thesis that is due in a few days- and I’m so nervous to send in what I’ve got! I’ve been editing, re-writing, re-organizing, and trying to find some semblance of lucidity in my own writing. Perhaps in my life as well?

Chinon Auto 3001 camera

32753687206_f40f9d28a4_c32640717662_7c570a87b8_c32753685846_f57a3a2665_c

I found a boxy little camera at a thrift store, went to 6 different shops and found the obscure battery, and took it out for a test drive.

The Chinon Auto 3001 is a sturdy little camera with a clamshell lens cover. It’s got a f/2.8 lens, a fill flash, an auto flash (that you can turn off) and no manual I could find on the internet.

So, on one of my meandering walks and over the course of a few evenings, I tried to shoot some test film on 2 rolls of Fujifilm. The results: Not too shabby. Obviously I need to test the auto-focus features more (it is supposed to be pretty good with the AF features) but it seems like a handy little beast to have around!

My greatest regret is that you cannot see the marvelous extra toes on Coco the cat’s little feet! She has polydactylism, which means that her feet have more toes than they should, and her adorable little paws look like little muffins!

32793965095_dee920c1a7_c32640718292_35c1d820b1_c32413629660_88d721f001_c32793965215_dc800bd7e0_c

Kodak Yellow

32350754240_a3d8b74773_c31916826133_a404633d2a_c

My love affair with Kodak film has been going strong for years. My mother generously gave me her Olympus OM-G 35mm SLR in my first year of college, patiently taught me how to use the manually attached flash, how to load film, how to change it, and then let me figure out everything else.

This was back in the day, y’all. This was back when film was still fairly abundant (back in 2009!), when Target carried Kodak film with instant cameras and batteries, back when you could still go to CVS and find dusty boxes of almost-expired drugstore brand film and quietly ask if you could get it discounted because it was almost about to be no good. Gah, the good old days! (Yes, I am sitting on a front porch yelling at kids to get off my lawn as I type this.) You could still get 35mm film developed at CVS, Costco, Walmart, Target, Walgreens…wherever! Nowadays, most drugstores don’t bother, as when their developing machines broke I believe it became policy for the corporations to not repair them any more…

32730544925_2b41a4af7f_c32350752890_fa0f1c9865_c32730543195_42d06c2713_c32350753690_b87918a2d5_c

…Anyway, to this day, despite the changes in photography culture, the goldenrod hues of Kodak roll film always quietly whisper promises of beautiful colors, of lush reds and rich skin tones. Kodak 400 speed film has always my preferred film, and my grandfather always favored Kodak over Fujifilm, saying that Fujifilm was far too focused on the green and blue tones of things (which is still true- I buy a lot of Fujifilm because it is cheaper than Kodak but the tones are very different).

So, when I learned that Opening Ceremony had done a small capsule collection with Kodak, I freaked out. Yes, it came out in Fall 2015. Yes, it was for men. Nonetheless, when I found out, I immediately went and looked. Did I want the gorgeous leather jacket that cost something like $500? Oh yes, yes. However, on my budget all I could justify was buying the OC hat I wear in some of these pictures. It was a Christmas gift to myself, and if that sounds silly it’s because it really is. This hat has the gorgeous colors of Kodak film, along with the timeless logo, and it’s a loud little beanie (tuque if you’re in Canada, which I am, which I can still never call a hat like this a tuque).

Paired with this goldenrod shirt and my omnipresent Dr. Marten boots, I feel a little intimidating and a little nostalgic, and that’s quite alright with me. I got to see a lot of crows this morning and some ducks and get rained on a little bit, and all of that was just fine, too. Now, back to writing the introduction to my thesis!

P.S. I picked up a funky little film camera for $8 at a thrift shop that has a pretty decent reputation and so I’m trying to run some film through it! Stay tuned for scans sometime this week! There will be cat pictures.

32350751220_3f44fc3455_c

A new favorite: Caffe Fantastico

32620888525_d941f7b6d7_c32620873205_69c6792bfc_c31777588354_a58bc499b4_b32580509056_16aa8a34fd_b32620877095_f25e854f3e_c

I have realized that my words do little justice but that my images do. Caffe Fantastico was bright, friendly, affordable, and well laid out. It was large but not sterile, and the food is delicious. It’s the sort of place you can see yourself wiling away a few hours lost in a book or typing out something for class.

It was really necessary to have a good chat with some friends there the other day. These days it feels so easy to fall into the blues and feel useless but being able to have uplifting experiences with good souls over warm coffee will never fail to make me feel a little stronger.

31777588544_9d3ddff2f5_c32580498286_fe4a08dfd0_b32620856275_94168f24aa_b31808730443_c719e9d472_b

Thesis beast and Primavera.

32620897365_d16177c7fa_c32620898105_661785807d_c32580562996_b97c16d8b8_c32580563316_59a1fa94c5_c32580574876_f4145ef3a0_c32620904795_f1d3ff8c67_c32580575246_0123acc2f1_c

Just some photos I have accumulated that don’t fit any particular theme of any one post. Some photos of some snowdrop flowers I found in all their tenacious, early spring glory. Cheerful homes I walk by on my walks to combat the intense anxiety that threatens to swallow me whole. Bits and bobs of books in the library, including the best label that reminds people that defacing books is, in fact, a crime.

Eating everything: Realm Food Co.

32601051225_6f513c1004_c32478127501_a18fab797e_c

Realm Food Co. is tucked away on a non-assuming street in Parksville, British Columbia. Parksville, which has a population around 12,000 people, is a small beach town that doesn’t exactly scream that it’ll have wicked food choices. However, when we walked into the bright, beautifully decorated interior, it seemed like our stomachs would thank us after multiple days of buffet hotel meals. A man played the piano quietly and beautifully in the corner. The place was packed, which is always a sure sign of quality!

It was Sunday morning, and Realm’s brunch menu featured some amazing looking tacos, Tailside Toast (their avocado toast), eggs benedict in a variety of delicious ways, and a whole menu of smoothies. Having quietly turned my nose up at avocado toast in restaurants to this point in my life, I finally ordered it- it was one of the cheaper options, after all!

32478127321_bd191b859b_c32478127181_bb25d2bf31_c

We settled into a bright blue vinyl booth and awaited the plates of food. I imagined petite pieces of bread with some little slices of avocado, paltry amounts of bourgeois hipster grub. Instead, all of us got amazing amounts of delicious food at really fair prices (mine, which was topped with an egg, was $10.50 total!). If you’ve waded into the deep, beloved habit of brunch on the island, you get used to paying close to $15 for a brunch plate of food- and god forbid if you get coffee! It was a relief, frankly, to be able to afford breakfast.

The food was also really, really pretty. Yeah, I said it. The thing you’re not supposed to say. Because even though we all Instagram our meals 24/7, our beautiful lattes and gorgeous salads and meaty burgers, saying it out loud (er…typing) makes it all sound ludicrous.

In summary: Delicious, affordable, beautiful. Super friendly staff, low key vibes, and comfy booths. Would highly recommend! Check out their website for more information. 

31788939583_973c70eddc_c32601050645_c9bec545b0_c

Qualicum Beach

32560462246_9c71ced342_c32478132531_0fda8bd226_c32478131381_bfdff815b0_c

This weekend most of my fellow grad students and I went up to Parksville to present our papers at an annual conference there. Having not been very far up the island, I relished the opportunity to see more outside of Victoria.

When we arrived, we checked into our rooms. Sliding open the balcony door I could immediately smell the sea and feel the breeze. However, there was no time for nice reflections: we were going to eat dinner and then edit our papers in a sea of stress, making sure that presenting them the next day would go as smoothly as possible.

I slept horribly. Perhaps stress, perhaps sharing a room with 3 other beings. Perhaps it was eating an enormous burger at dinner. Speculating doesn’t matter- what mattered was that as I woke up at 6 am after having been awake since 3 am, I felt like I wanted to crawl into a copse of trees outside the hotel and bury myself under leaves and not awaken until summertime.

32478131021_728cb7eb75_c32601053385_8d99605be6_c32478131781_74323b6d89_c

Luckily, presenting my paper (on blood transfusion methods and development in World War I and World War II!) went smoothly! Some really lovely people asked marvelous questions and the two other people on my panel (my fellow MA candidate Dmitry and a really lovely women named Katie) did epic presentations on their research.

The conference had us eating via meal tickets we were given. The meals were buffet style- relatively edible, not great, but not horrible either. There was, however, a  never ending supply of coffee at all hours of the day, and as I sipped my 6th cup of coffee over dinner I mused if I was going to make it past 8pm. Thank goodness for caffeine.

Overall I managed to find time with some friends to go on walks outside the cramped, stressed out hallways of the conference venue. We could see over to the mainland from where we stood, and the view was gorgeous. Being near the ocean will never get old for me. It was a joy to explore a new part of the island, and it was fantastic to go see amazing papers given on such subjects as Frank Buck the animal collector, racialized bias in asylums in British Columbia, narwhals in aquariums, and the first digital computers built after World War II.

32601053385_8d99605be6_c32601052865_d15241bfc2_c32601053195_5f137159ab_c32478130151_7bb6f330d7_c

 

 

 

Expired 35mm film

32114390540_cf94356ec5_c32371296271_092e199613_c32371296561_c56a3d90f8_c

Thrift stores are a gold mine of glorious potential. I have found luxury leather bags, exquisite vintage coats, jewelry, and my fair share of amazing/weird things.

I mostly trawl mine these days for forgotten cameras and film. Many people donate film to thrift stores- much of it expired- and for a fraction of the cost I’ll shoot it.

As you can see, most expired film gets grainy and can’t handle dark light at all. Colors are a bit off, too. However, when I found 4 rolls of Kodak Gold 400 speed film for $2.00 I definitely went for it. When I got the developed roll back from the shop, though, I found I only had about 12 usable frames- mostly because I had tried taking photographs at night, which on this expired film was nearly impossible.

Note to self with my remaining rolls: Be generous with daylight.

32371296011_21b67e0477_c32371297341_dcef47092a_c32371296921_c8db7a27cf_c

A Fine Day for a Protest: Women’s March on Victoria

31605906224_d27a5eda4e_c31605905264_c9af9fd6f5_c

We agreed to meet at a coffee shop to get sustenance before heading down to the march. Outside the cafe, people with pink hats and signs walked past every few minutes, and I got excited.

My mother, sister, boyfriend, and friends were all in Helena marching in frigid temperatures. I knew friends marching in Geneva, Amsterdam, DC, Boston, Minneapolis, Houston, San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.  Most of the people I love today were out showing solidarity for one another and for other humans. Right now is not the time to shelter yourself- it is time to unite, express love and support, and learn new things. To be a good listener and take time to accept new ideas. To put yourself out of your comfort zone, stand up for yourself and others, and realize that right now, we must watch out for each other and ourselves.

31605905824_fbded4dbe8_c31605905454_bee5490d95_c31605904534_4172aeca0d_c

The march in Victoria was overwhelmingly positive. Lots of older folks, many who seemed excited and yet tired of the shenanigans their dramatic neighbors in America seem to always get up to. Lots of amazing home made signs, dogs, and little ones- including some babies that didn’t seem to keen to be starting their lives as rebels just yet. The weather was beautiful, and a really wicked Canadian politican, Elizabeth May of the Green Party, spoke. I met her on the street once during Canadian election season (which, side note is WAY shorter and more humane than the never-ending election cycle of America) and ever since have been a big fan. The march began and we headed in the direction of the Parliament building, then turned and made a big U-turn up another street. The whole time I felt on the edge of tears- so many awesome people allying themselves with Americans who will be facing struggles in the near future.

31605903574_b26e59bd62_c31605904024_dcbaef5ea6_c31605903004_3786d07307_c

The optimism and exciting energy I felt today extended beyond Victoria. It extended beyond North America. It rippled across the world and it was absolutely infectious. I hope that we can learn intersectionality, true support, and be vocal for positive, progressive changes for the better, and not be okay with the horrible darkness that threatens to engulf some of us, and I hope that protests and marches like these are just a start.

There are estimates that about 5,000-8,00 Victorians marched today, and while I’m not quire sure how many ultimately made a stand of solidarity and marched, there were thousands of people that filled the downtown area with their marvelous energy. It was such a joy to march with everybody and to see Victorians, who have often seemed so friendly and helpful, make themselves known as even more quality souls.

31605901864_2f3a34f498_c31605902194_12f7448a54_c

31605905074_a4157c013d_c31605903854_c9abc81338_c

A Day of Mourning

31616768793_2d0f80b712_c32050434090_b4fbda1388_c

Today I didn’t wear all black but I felt like it. Waking up before the sun had risen, I had a drink of water, put on lipstick, and walked out the door with my camera. I thought of home- of my family that will be marching tomorrow against hate, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and all other horrid things that do not represent the America we know- and I wanted to be home.

The morning was beautiful- crows chatted and birds chirped from bushes that were on the edge of blooming. Victoria right now, in mid to late January, is already on the edge of welcoming Primavera in all her colors. Snowdrop flowers, those harbingers of such events,  were already blooming in some flower beds on my street, and I wanted to ask them to be patient and wait- snowdrops are some of my favorite flowers and they fade the fastest, and things already feel so difficult and insurmountable.

31616768593_f77e850df2_c

I walked down to my favorite beach spot and noticed that the sea was utterly roiling. The golden and copper hues of the sun on the mercury-like waves was mesmerizing, but the waves were so big and so frequent I couldn’t clamber over the rocks to my favorite hidden place. I tried to wait them out, as it is common knowledge that the ocean is a moody thing, prone to changing quickly. No such luck. In my suspicious mind, I wondered if the ocean knew that thousands of miles away, in a swamp turned capital city turned swamp, a monster supported by neo-Nazis and the ignorant alike was putting on a mantle of enormous power, and that perhaps the ocean knew that this was wrong, bad, and could have all sorts of consequences for many life forms.

32428322205_e0d56796eb_c

Then I thought about my mother, busy making signs for the march in Helena tomorrow, and I thought about my marvelous aunt, who was already in DC, excited to march against this ridiculous Cheeto in Chief who would likely raise Hell with his ignorance. I thought of Mary in Minneapolis who was also excited to march and I thought of myself, who would be joining a coalition of allies here in Victoria tomorrow.

Now is a difficult time. Many things threaten to drown me. A seemingly never-ending struggle to maintain a most tenuous balance plays out. Right now, the balance between maintaining my mental health and being productive feels like the hardest one. Many of us are doing our best and I know that right now, all I can ask of myself is that I do the same.

31585122874_7d31a131a4_b32050433730_7defd78150_c32050432430_db59bd21e7_c

Hike: Mount Douglas

32275690566_6de72b02e4_c31937822950_0684e93551_c

Katherine suggested we try to find and hike Mount Douglas as a way to shake things up a bit. It’s been so cold here that we’ve both got a bit of cabin fever going! This morning we packed our respective cameras and left our little bit of town and began our hike!

32275689936_a87890fcc9_c31937821730_0d4bdfeb16_c

Mount Douglas is a very popular hiking spot in Victoria, and has several trails. We hiked the Irvine trail, which was beautiful and steep in several spaces. Lots of ferns, beautiful patches of moss all over the rocks. It was cold enough that frost on some of the rocks made the trail quite slick, but luckily it wasn’t warm enough out for lots of mud to be present.

32275688696_b30b66459a_c

We had a beautiful morning exploring this new corner of the city! There were lots of dogs and fellow hikers, and if you like having trails to yourself I would go early in the morning when people aren’t up and about yet. The trail was pretty moderate but I wouldn’t wear casual shoes or shoes you wouldn’t mind getting muddy. The rocks require some grip and there are definitely patches that have potential to be quite muddy.

Thank you for reading! I’ve been making a serious effort to re-boot this blog back into action. Stay tuned for more and take care!

31937819610_b41358cf9f_c31937820350_d782581f5d_c

Bundled up by the sea.

31818697970_49bd63931d_c32075827831_594cb368ce_c31818697200_1b5c6aef04_cThis morning I woke up and it was cloudy, warmer than it had been all week, and quiet. I quickly dressed, packed a muffin, a banana, my diary, camera, and keys in my bag and headed out the door sufficiently bundled up. I pinned on the small bird in hand pin my sister got me as well. It goes with me everywhere these days.

Victoria has been cold. And by cold, I mean balmy compared to my homeland, the deathly chilly wastelands of Montana. Yet, the ocean chill seeps into my very soul on these cold days and so when the temperature rose enough for me to feel like I could be outside for a length of time, I took the opportunity with enthusiasm.

32045575462_e70a9bdfc8_c32075825381_7676f772ab_c32045577672_758f0b7df1_c31818696480_b97cea513b_c

There weren’t many people out, despite the significantly warmer weather. Honestly, I love it when Victoria is like that. When it feels like a secret, when the beaches are empty of dogs and humans. The murmur of human voices are gone, replaced by the sound of wind and waves. I reclaimed my love for Victoria again this morning with this environment.

Going down a familiar set of slippery wooden stairs, I scrambled on rocks by the beach and thoroughly enjoyed myself, bundled up in a large thrifted Polo Ralph Lauren men’s sweater that serves as my coat these days and the ridiculously warm Icelandic wool scarf I bought myself in downtown Reykjavik last June. Sea ducks surfaced and dove right off shore and the massive ships anchored deep in the strait looked as though they had always been there. The mountains behind Port Angeles are snow capped and regal looking this time of year, and I felt a twinge as I looked at my home country, and my mind went to my family and loved ones. What a lucky thing it is to live somewhere that still surprises me, but what a thing it is to do so feeling still so alone.

32045574762_4a2107482f_c32155873456_7d5422b578_c

Nonetheless, being a human is inherently a lonely enterprise, so to dwell on the difficulties of such things is pointless. It’s best to listen to the sounds around me, breathe deeply, and smell the salt and the sea. It’s better to notice how steadily me heart beats, how amazing the miles of blood vessels that run through me are, and how glorious it is to feel the soles of my boots move from one rock to another as I navigate the slick rocky shore.

I think these things as I sit near the large window that faces a busy street. It has begun to rain very hard and raindrops coat the window. Everything in me is whispering to go take a Sunday cat nap for a bit, and I just might. A dopo!

32075824661_c5554245e0_c32155872936_862e552283_c32045573572_20b7261c14_c

You’re a piece of (art) work.

23078099945_e559162cf8_c

23064474712_7286438818_c

23089271301_347aa92bcf_c

A year ago we convened in Seattle to go to a fantastic gig and revel in one another’s company. We ate good food, saw gorgeous art, and had a blast.

23089309581_f7d773f192_c22456890403_b0a7887f82_c23089324641_4dc6a9ee65_c23089280601_5f169338b5_c

My life right now is nothing but writing, reading, editing, eating, and sleeping. I’d rather have it include a Primal Scream show with some good people. C’est la vie. Instead, here’s some pictures of art that we saw in the Seattle Art Museum last November.

22659674668_abda6206e1_c22659714237_e0195e511e_c23064445062_06800eed0a_c

22659697067_dae8f11125_c

 

Self care and simmering anger

30925900745_733456564e_c

30624735210_818f0c0d1f_c

30890167946_b0ca986128_c

22747797828_d6577ea306_c

In the midst of this flooding of fear and preparation and grief for things that haven’t even yet occurred there is the reality- that I wake up, eat breakfast, and live. Exist. Not thrive, exactly, but survive. That is the goal right now.

Clarice Lispector has been quietly reassuring me that slogging through the shit is normal, and that the burning in my veins, this quiet simmering of anger, is an aspect of being human. I read books about other times, the past, times that are not now. I quietly try to avoid the news. I prepare Christmas gifts of donations to organizations that will be helping people who become further disenfranchised or who need medical care or who have other challenges that will become larger as this horrendous transition of power takes place. 30890160066_bf31453771_c

30624757120_15727ba279_c

30925978595_265ff5c889_c

30925970545_6d5fc6d825_c

I apply my lipstick and drink coffee and watch a parade of servicemen, marching for Remembrance Day here in Canada. I again mentally wish I was home for the millionth time, that I was able to be with people who feel the same thing. I almost cry thinking of my loved ones back home. I write the shoddy, weak beginnings of poems that will be honed and slowly fortified with the correct words. I am unable to do my research and writing at the same pace I was, as I feel like my brain is frozen to only a few subjects. This will fade and it must soon. 22747847648_d272ec8340_c

25290605309_990544335f_c

30925928415_eb0732bd9d_c

There is a ginkgo tree on Yates street that delights me. It is so yellow, unabashedly so, and it charms me with it’s enthusiasm for the season, and seems unaffected by everything around it. The natural world does what it has always done- adapts and moves on. I envy the tidal pools I peer into as the sun goes down. I relish the soft feel of leaves in my hands, knowing the trees do not understand what is happening just across the strait in my home country. It began to rain, quietly at first, after I left the drugstore with a candle, a silly purchase but something about a flame in close quarters is comforting.

It all continues and we hold our heads high and love one another more fiercely than ever before.

Creepy goodness: Ghostly Walks

“This is the time of year when the barrier between the living and the dead gets thinner”, our Quebecois guide crooned to us as we sat in a dark stone room, waiting to venture into the cool evening. It had just rained, leaving everything with a layer of chill. We separated into two groups, and went off to learn about a select few of Victoria’s many, many hauntings.

30231515730_9b4c13e864_c

30231509650_66e44393e2_c

Victoria is known as one of the most haunted places in the Pacific Northwest. It comes as no surprise- Victoria was a major port city, took on many people from the Klondike Gold Rush, and had people from every corner of the globe coming here for a wide variety of reasons. One of my favorite places in the city, the Ross Bay Cemetery, has gravestones from all over the world commemorating people who came to make their lives here.

30231501480_10392c28ab_c

30231498760_0b0b389fb2_c

The nights in Victoria get very, very cold and as we were told stories of prostitutes murdered, criminals hanged and left in unmarked graves that were later dug up unceremoniously, and the atrocities that white men committed by desecrating sacred First Nations burial grounds, it was easy to imagine people from the past quietly nearby, ducking down the dark streets and walking down hallways that they did in real life.

These stories could feel hokey or sappy but large parts of downtown Victoria are murky feeling and damp. These spaces are like things sprouting in secret, dark corners and it was very easy to imagine dark things happening and lingering.

30231504880_ba61f8ae10_c

30413153712_c465e36129_c

30413159802_517b004429_c

As somebody who finds walking at night peaceful and balancing, almost necessary to my sanity, hearing these stories was a bit creepy to be sure. However, I grew up in a mining town where equally harsh things happened, where people lived and died quickly, and that partially makes Victoria feel a bit more familiar. I can understand the gold rush and the resource extraction and people living roughly, the conflicts between cultures, the unrest that underlies all of this. Our guide, Chris Adams, was very good at making this sense of unrest clear, and he was delightfully serious about it all. I almost asked him for a photograph of his skull-headed cane but didn’t get the chance.

30442299151_f86632baa1_c

30529592185_1df8d0c761_c

30442296481_deba62e444_c

29898933614_c926d8ef68_c