The Parrot Confectionery

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The Parrot has been a refuge of sorts for me for years. I’ve written diary entries, finished and ended books, held hands, had serious conversations and said goodbyes here. I’ve consumed way too much coffee in the booths, I’ve even cried in them. I lost my wallet once and found it there, in the hands of the staff, who kindly kept it for me behind the counter.

The Parrot in Helena, Montana, has been a place for me to love going to since we moved to Montana in 1998. It’s always felt familiar. Some new owners just bought it and I quietly fear that it will change, though they have vowed not to change a thing. Helena’s had this marvelous staple around for over 90 years, and I hope that when I am old and brittle I can still slowly make my way through the screen door and hear that bell ring and settle into my booth, with a piece of honeycomb chocolate and a cup of cheap coffee.

 

Smitten Kitten

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My sister adopted the most beautiful little hairball last fall and I didn’t get the chance to meet her until last week! Co likes to sleep next to your face and makes lots of chirps all the time. She doesn’t like to be picked up and she’s surprisingly small for being so hairy!

Having not been to Bozeman for some time, Em and I attempted to find a cozy nook to settle into and catch up. Unfortunately, every such place was quite crowded. Nonetheless, we eventually found ourselves deep in conversation, talking about anything and everything in the way only sisters can.

Sisters and cats can cure any amount of the blues, it seems.

Winter mornings

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Home means darkness. It means short days, beautiful sunsets, and lots of layering (even for the dogs!).

Kitty and I went outside one morning to play on the ice. She is almost too fat for her coat but we got it on her nonetheless! She and I ran out in the freezing weather, the snow squeaking and flying around us. No mice prints, no bird prints- it was too cold for animals to be out and about. The sun had not yet risen and we got out onto the ice.

I have always loved the way that ice looks- all the trapped air bubbles, cracks, and other imperfections that become trapped for weeks or months at a time. Ice moves slowly, so slowly that you don’t know it, but occasionally a large, ominous BOOM echoes across the lake as large sections encounter one another.

We didn’t stay outside too long, as it was very, very chilly, but we both got some much needed fresh air and feel the cold air surround us. I am already getting ready to go back to British Columbia and it has been fantastic to be home. How lucky to be able to come home and spend time with loved ones and exist outside of my writing for a bit.

Home again

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I have been with the ones I love and it has been marvelous. We’ve been cooking pizzas, lasagnas, pasta dishes galore. Hot tea and coffee have been staples. There is snow, so much more than I thought there would be!

I start work this week for a few weeks of money making. My heart is so full right now in the best way.

Initial thoughts of what is happening.

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Tonight, millions of Americans failed their fellow Americans. They voted for a President who incites hate and fear. He encourages bigotry, sexism, racism, and ignorance. He represents the worst of us.

What will happen now?

Those of us who have been under fire as long as we have known will once again put up defenses. We will support and love each other. We will be more vocal than ever. We will protect each other and try to weaken each blow that comes our way. We will call our representatives and senators and try to do our damned best to not let this complete travesty effect our lives any more than it has to.

This is fucking awful. I’m sorry, world.

Young Lady in 1866 by Edouard Manet

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I love how Manet consistently used colors to embody luxury and how he used light to enhance everything. The dark backgrounds with bland colors set his subjects in contrast, making them more illuminated and glowing. I love how delicately he does hands- they don’t look stiff or too formal at all. The tiny peeled lemon he leaves in the bottom right corner of the painting make it both a portrait and a still life. I love how quick and easy his brushstrokes seem. Manet was a passionate creature, and his paintings and pastel works are infused with emotion. There is no passivity in his creations, no pauses, but they are not rushed works. Purposeful, clever, and exquisite, Manet’s portraits are some of my favorites to observe.

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Working Title/Artist: Young Lady in 1866 Department: European Paintings Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: 1866 photographed by mma in 1993, transparency 2a (8×10) scanned by film & media 9/19/04 (phc)

Various feelings about my thesis illustrated by Twin Peaks

Intermittent crying regarding frustration finding sources because archives are hell and horribly organized and nobody gets back to you. s1_e6_crying

Somebody suggests you might actually need help on the damn thesis but you’re feeling hostile and defensive so you ignore their advice and later collapse even though you are actually a nice person underneath it all. s1_e4_hulkingboob

Ravenous bouts of hunger that make you feel productive because at least you’re fueling your next bout of angst and guilt-filled procrastination that will end with you falling asleep reading a source at 3 am. s1_e3_omnomnom

When you think you’ve been really fucking productive but then realize how much more is left to do. s1_e2_distant_thunder

When you try to do things you enjoy like beach walks and making photographs but are consistently hounded by the reality that you’re not working on the thesis and you suck and it’s all futile and life is cold and the universe indifferent. s1_e1_sobbing

Trying to explain to your family who doesn’t really get it that this is really really hard and that all of these problems actually matter. s1_e1_ohdear

More sobbing because for some reason Andy sobbing matters a lot and feels relevant because he’s so pure and good and at one point you probably were too. s1_e1_cryingagain

At some point you’ll reach the stage where you feel cold and emotionless and more like a shell of a human. But since you have good skincare routines and a decent sartorial sense you’ll at least look decent. cooper_s1e1

 

L’autunno is here (again)

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As soon as I got a mile in, to my favorite cemetery, it began to pour. I hid beneath a tree for  a minute, then high-tailed it to a bus stop where I took the bus home, with a deep chill and only a few frames. You can see that everything is already changing or gearing up to change.

The Helena Farmer’s Market

29010225864_6e961818bf_b29636475565_d4c424980b_b29636469575_7992002982_b29636470475_fc9c36d5fc_bSaturdays are meant to be spent nibbling on baklava from your local Hungarian baker with the sun shining while meals are being mentally cooked up as you both consider all the options.

Shining jars of pure local honey glisten and you handle produce, feeling the bumpy skin of squash and smelling the roasted peanuts from the stand down the way. A producer snips off carrot stems to keep them fresher for you and people chat, eagerly telling their stories, talking about their vegetables and fruit, giving you more than just food, but giving you a loved, cultivated thing that they cared for enough and are now handing over to you.

Everybody remembers your extra tall partner in crime, and he knows much more about food than you do. He chats about lamb for a good while with some ranchers from Boulder and you people watch. At the end you leave with way too much food for two people but aren’t upset about it.

The Helena Farmer’s Market is a great way to start off a proper weekend. Grabbing a bagel from the Bagel Co. or getting baklava, sipping coffee from one of the food trucks, and letting all the smells and sounds envelop you. You can buy beautiful flowers, little fresh herbs, pheasant skins, jam, handmade hats, candles, fresh bread, multiple kinds of garlic, lip balms and lotions, handmade soaps, beautiful jewelry, and as much kettle corn as you want.

People have a special zest for the farmer’s market here- it’s always busy! Perhaps it’s because we Montanans spend 6 months of the year with fierce, bitter-cold winters, so our time for green things, for food that you can pluck from the soil, is so limited and we understand this relationship. We get to go somewhere with an abundance of beautiful, locally grown things that came from our harsh landscape, and while you hate the winter you love the summer, and ultimately you do love where you live. We love being able to be outside, and any excuse to gather together is taken. Once summer begins to fade, we keep our freezers full of quart bags of huckleberries and rhubarb so that pies can be made. Our mums can fruit and make jam for the long dark months, and some of our fathers gear up for hunting season so that elk, pheasant, deer, goose, and duck can once again be part of our diet and fill the extra freezer many of our families have in the garage or basement. We waste not, we want not, for soon this street and town will be covered in long-lingering chunks of snow and ice and the hours of the day will not be so kind. Better love the enormous sweet onions that call your name and buy the beautiful fresh carrots while you can.

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Restless

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Some days are made for unproductive things like contemplation and quiet sounds. I found a quiet corner of campus where I sit and think. I’ve been re-reading The Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse and my mind wanders far off properly trodden paths and flits from idea to idea. I think about people I miss, about what the weather home might be like. If I can hear any birds in the grove near this window I am seated at. I think about how a Mercedes almost hit me today because I was being a typically assertive pedestrian at a crosswalk and how it would actually have been really bad to be hit but at the time I didn’t feel anything other than mild frustration.

These photographs were made on a contemplative day. We walked and ran errands and ended up here, making photographs of each other and not saying much. It was one of my last days in Montana for a while and it was a dreary, chilly day. It was like being in the midst of an empty Tim Burton set, and I imagined things with many eyes were peaking out of trees and old bricks and holes in the walls and I wanted to nap in the boughs nearby very badly. I was nestled in a hat and scarf for the first time since March and Logan wore his peacoat which I hadn’t seen in several months.  Fall was quietly letting us know that she was here, that she was arriving and would make all the leaves fall and gnaw at our hours of daylight and make us slowly change our wardrobes. I like fall but in Montana she is a brief, dramatic creature who leaves very quickly, but this day she was fully present and staking her territory.

While I’m on this tangent, it is so strange to be back in Victoria, with autumn already strutting about in red and orange. I took a long walk last night starting in the graveyard and there were already little leaf carpets to crunch on. The mornings are chilly, the evenings have a tang to them, and summer is fast fleeting here on this island where I have experienced the most beautiful autumn of my life (aesthetically). I will eagerly devour all the visual changes, document them, and show them to you all.

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A semi-final adventure of sorts.

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Dressed to the nines in an Italian restaurant, we both checked our phones, apologizing and feeling rude. We had good reason to do so: We were trying to network and see if any friends or family could loan us a tent in a pinch. Our reliable outlet for tents had sold all their rental tents, which we had used periodically this summer.

After dinner we pulled up to a beautiful house perched on a hill. Annette opened the door and handed us an 8 person tent, generously helping us out. We didn’t know if we would be able to set up this behemoth contraption, but it was what we needed, and we walked back to the car, still dressed very nicely, holding the green Coleman tent bag.

Our goal: Glacier National Park, for two nights, complete with fire, hopefully seeing mountain goats, maybe a grizzly through some binoculars.

The reality: Due to my sickness, consisting of a horrible cough and wretched, fitful nights of sleep, and an impending storm in the park, we cancelled and decided on one night in Yellowstone. Sure, there was rain and wind predicted. Sure, I was still a sickly creature. But, it was my last weekend in America for a few months and we were feeling scrappy.

So, we went to Yellowstone. Again. We had a marvelous time, despite Stage 2 fire restrictions that meant no campfire. We had a tent palace courtesy of a wonderful woman and we had the Boiling River and the Lamar Valley and a quiet lake to walk near and fall colors to soak in. We had the last tendrils of summer hanging on and we reveled in what nature had to give us. We watched elk nibble feet from our tent in the campsite, large healthy cows and velvet-adorned yearlings, eating their salad and fattening up. We listened to creeks rush and leaves rustle. We had a good last weekend before it was time for me to pack and go back to British Columbia to tackle The Thesis.